Geoff Helisma

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Over the past 15 years Geoff Helisma has reported on all things Clarence Valley; telling stories about the tireless work of volunteers in community groups at one end of the spectrum, to investigating relevant local, state and federal government issues at the other.

CVC prepares its balancing act

Any promises made by the Clarence Valley’s councillors during last year’s election – to oppose a special rate variation (SRV) – are officially dead and buried following last week’s council meeting on Tuesday May 16. Councillors unanimously endorsed applying for an eight per cent increase in the general rate each year for three years (including an estimated rate pegged limit of two per cent), with a cumulative impact of 25.9 per cent – to be retained permanently in council’s ...

Home-grown hero honoured

Australian Wallabies star Kane Douglas returned to his home town of Yamba for the naming of Yamba’s rugby field in his honour on Saturday. The former junior Buccaneer player spent time catching up with old mates and took time out to talk with young Yamba players. Prior to the formal unveiling, Clarence Valley mayor Jim Simmons addressed the large crowd which had gathered for the event. “Congratulations to Kane who represents the Buccaneers, Yamba and the entire Clarence Valley so ...

Approved: ‘Dongaville’, on the fringes of town

Clarence Valley Council has approved the construction of a 124-bed temporary workforce accommodation compound on a previously developed and approved 19-lot residential subdivision at 21 Challinor Street, Grafton. The development, which includes one four-bedroom module, 20 six-bedroom modules and 122 onsite parking spaces, will house the itinerant “workforce associated with the large infrastructure works in the region”. Consent was granted for the temporary development for four ...

Confidential business

At last week’s Clarence Valley Council meeting, councillors unanimously endorsed keeping discussions confidential, regarding the Grafton Community Centre and the sale of 1A Spring Street, South Grafton – which previously was the library’s headquarters before being vacated when the new library was built. Each of the items were discussed in a confidential session in concurrence with 10A 2 (c) of the Local Government Act: “The report contains information that would, if disclosed, confer a ...

Maclean Sports Centre management nears resolution

Clarence Valley Council (CVC) has resolved to call tenders for the maintenance and operation of the Maclean Sports Centre. The decision, taken in a confidential session at last week’s council meeting, includes continuing the current temporary management of the centre by Valley Pool Services P/L at a cost of “$5,700 per month until such time that the successful tenderer takes occupation of the facility”. The decision was made in a confidential session because the report to council ...

Hey Smokey, where’re ya headed, mate?

It was March 1, 2006 when Ben Allmon, AKA Smokey, stepped onto the sand at Pottsville, just south of Tweed Heads. He was on a mission, one that seemed, well, stupid and ill-considered: Allmon embarked on a walk that mostly followed the east coast beaches to Sydney. He had no real support during the trek – he was literally on his own – and his preparation, despite talking about the idea for a year, was virtually non-existent: the 27-year-old musician left Pottsville without a map – ...

Welded to federal contracts

Yamba Welding and Engineering has landed a $5million contract to build four 12-metre and four 5-metre boats for the Australian Border Force, over the next two years. Federal Member for Page Kevin Hogan, who was accompanied by Australian Border Force’s commander of special operations support and business engagement, Craig Sommerville, officially announced the Yamba firm’s successful tender in Yamba last Friday. “This is great news for Yamba Welding, our local community and importan...

Iluka comes to the party

On Sunday May 7 the people of Iluka and surrounds dug deep into their pockets, raising $7,665 to help pay for a life-saving operation for 11-year-old Paige Humphreys. Iluka resident Leona Jackson set out to put on a low key event at the Iluka Bowling Club, however, “it escalated from there into a big fundraiser, as local Iluka and Yamba businesses have come forward with wonderful donations,” she told the Independent before the big day. Ms Jackson heard about Paige’s plight at a ...

Iluka keeps its library

Iluka residents rallied to keep its library by turning up in numbers at the councillors’ listening tour last Friday May 12. Councillor Debrah Novak posted on the ‘Iluka community General Q & A, information and concerns’ Facebook page, following the meeting: “All I can say is well done Iluka!!!!” “You came out today, all 100 of you, and it was so great to hear your passion. “Good news from the mayor [Jim Simmons] too: your library is there to stay. “Thanks for making ...

Flying under the radar

    When a Royal Australian Air Force C-17A Globemaster III began its flight up the Clarence River on Friday May 12, social media posts began appearing almost immediately. At 11.14am, as the plane continued its river-hugging flight, Maclean’s Gail Driscoll just happened to have a camera in her hands. “I was just lucky that I was out on the deck with my camera, getting ready to take photos of a cheeky young butcherbird,” she posted on the Independent’s ...