11 September 2019

2018 Year in Review - News

| Amy M
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In 2018, About Regional extended its dynamic news presence, offering in-depth coverage of issues that matter to people across South East NSW.

Our news articles reported on tragedies that devastated the region, provided readers with food for thought, and showcased positive stories that made us smile.

10. Police say Phoenix was found in remote NSW bushland with no water or warm clothing

The news that six-year-old Phoenix Mapham, who had been missing for more than a week, had been found was welcome news in August. Police said they found Phoenix and his mother in the Tallaganda National Park on foot, with no nearby tent or car.

Detective Acting Superintendent Harry Hains said police officers searched a “massive” area with the help of a rescue helicopter.

9. Batemans Bay’s David Degning highlights a bigger issue

Batemans Bay's David Degning remains in detention at Villawood in Sydney. Photo: WikiCommons.

Photo: WikiCommons.

This article was one of a series about Batemans Bay grandfather David Degning, who was in Villawood Detention Centre awaiting deportation to the United Kingdom. But as news came to light that he had a more serious criminal history than first reported, Ian Campbell had mixed feelings.

Ian reflected on the unfolding story in April, writing that:

“[David Degning’s] crimes are unacceptable and I am pleased that the Australian legal system has dealt with Mr Degning and have acknowledged the impact these crimes have had or could have had on victims and the wider community. What I and others have argued for during the evolution of this story is the need for further scrutiny of the Immigration Department’s ability to deport a man born in the United Kingdom but who for 50 of his last 58 years has lived in Australia.

8. Constance says Pambula Preschool is secure on current site

Pambula Preschool has 80 enrollments and attracts families from Merimbula, Tura beach, Wolumla, Wyndham and Eden. Photo: Pambula Preschool website.

Photo: Pambula Preschool website.

Member for Bega Andrew Constance had some good news in November. He announced that lease concerns surrounding Pambula Preschool were progressing towards resolution.

The Pambula Preschool committee was frustrated and fearful for its future following five years of protracted legal limbo with the NSW Government.

Spokesperson Glenn Merrick said what should have been a simple lease renewal with NSW Crown Lands had turned into an epic battle that prevented the preschool from applying for development grants.

7. Bega High School draws on community support and responsibility

Bega High School. Photo: Ian Campbell

Photo: Ian Campbell.

After a video of a Bega High School student being kicked, thrown around and beaten by a fellow student in a school stairwell was uploaded to social media and broadcast on television, the school’s leadership team stepped into action. They asked the school community to share in the responsibility of ensuring the safety and well-being of all.

In a letter addressed to parents and carers, Principal Linda Thurston said:

“In moving forward from this incident I request the support and consideration of students, staff, and the entire school community to think and talk about the values that are important to us and ways we can all ensure the safety and well-being of others at school.”

6. Snowy Brumbies in a desperate state year round. WARNING – distressing images

Pictures of dead horses and horses in poor condition have shocked many, Photo: Alison Swain.

Photo: Alison Swain.

A few news stories this year made for uncomfortable reading, including the discovery of dead brumbies in the Snowy River by Felix Hearn from Dalgety.

“As a reward for working hard all winter, I shouted myself a whitewater expedition down the river, really to learn more about the river and its Aboriginal heritage,” he said.

“What I didn’t expect to see was such a stressed and damaged environment and I didn’t expect to see so many dead brumbies.”

5. Felicia, winning hearts and leading by example at Bega High School

Felicia, Bega High School's dog. Photo: Ian Campbell.

Photo: Ian Campbell.

Bega High School made headlines again, this time for a feel-good tale of a golden labrador who won the hearts of students and staff.

Part friend part teaching aid, we reported that the two-year-old lab brings smiles, companionship, and support everywhere she goes. Felicia started in the guide dog training program but her temperament wasn’t up to the job.

Fortunately she is perfectly suited for work with the students and teachers of Bega High.

4. Three Billboards outside Narooma, New South Wales

Peter Russell

Photo: Ian Campbell.

Inspired by an Academy Award-winning movie, Narooma’s Peter Russell took a stand against the Adani coal mine planned for Central Queensland in June. News of his three billboards on the northern side of Wagonga Inlet proved popular with readers.

3. Bega family still smiling after Air Force rescue from outback

Lara, Janine and Steve Scrivens at Ularu. Photo: Steve Scrivens

Photo: Steve Scrivens.

Steve Scrivens and his family always had an appetite for adventure, but their most recent holiday didn’t quite go to plan. The Bega family was rescued by the Royal Australian Air Force between Laverton and Coober Pedy back in April after their car broke down.

Fortunately, the well-traveled and experienced campers had everything they needed in the back of their broken car.

“It’s a case of be careful what you wish for,” Steve told Region Media with a chuckle.

2. September 15 – nowhere in South East NSW felt safe from fire

Night falls on Day 32 of the Yankees Gap Fire, Sept 15. Photo: Rachel Helmreich.

Photo: Rachel Helmreich.

The vast Yankees Gap Fire raged across South East NSW in September. Ian Campbell wrote that it was like a volcano in the drought-stricken landscape.

By day 32, the 15,500-hectare fire presented a flashpoint that locals had been warned about and feared.

Blackened leaves falling from the sky rattled communities as far east as Bega, Jellat, and Kalaru. However, the people of Bemboka, Coopers Gully, Numbugga, and Brogo felt the real threat of the fire, which escalated to an emergency alert level on the back of strong winds and high temperatures.

1. Bega tragedy: Killed by his last offer of help, Rest in Peace Mick Horne

Mick Horne and his son Tom. Photo: Supplied by NSW police.

Photo: NSW Police. Mick Horne is pictured right.

An offer of help by retired police officer and Merimbula resident Mick Horne cost him his life in June. The 54-year-old died in hospital after stopping to assist what he thought was a motorist in need.

Mick, who retired as a senior constable in 2009 after serving in Bega, was then allegedly struck in the head with a hammer.

Speaking to About Regional, Jase Holly said the community has lost one of its pillars.

“R.I.P. Michael Horne, you died offering help and service to someone in distress. Your legacy will shine in all that knew you,” he said.

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