A final cut

Loyal customers wait their turn as Morwell s John Ellingham gets his final in chair service from Gordon Pigott, one of the Valley s longest serving barbers.Morwell’s John Ellingham has never needed to read The Express.

As a 20-year customer of Morwell barber Gordon Pigott, who is known to work the Valley gossip grapevine as fast as he works his scissors, Mr Ellingham always “knows what’s about to happen”.

“Gordon’s well known by everybody, and he knows everyone, so there’s not much he doesn’t know,” Mr Ellingham said.

After 53 years as a Valley barber, Mr Pigott, 68, said the combination of age and health had finally got the better of him, forcing him into retirement despite a loyal and healthy customer base. Thirty minutes before Gordon’s Gents Hairdressing closed its doors to Church Street for the final time last Thursday, five customers sat waiting for their final trim.

“He’s got a joke book 125 pages long,” one customer said, as Mr Pigott served one-liners to the packed waiting area without a moment’s hesitation.

While his finger joints were still nimble and fit, Mr Pigott said “standing on concrete floors your whole life doesn’t make your feet any softer”.

From the age of eight, Mr Pigott said his lifelong career as a barber was set. Leaving school at the age of 14, he would cut hair for his father’s work mates, before opening his first shop at the age of 20, when the price for a trim cost three shillings and sixpence.

“After all these years, he still doesn’t have an eftpos machine,” Mr Ellingham said.

However fish, raspberries and strawberries have been known to pass for currency at Gordon’s Gents Hairdressing.

With his “home” in Lakes Entrance, and a “holiday house” in Churchill, Mr Pigott is looking forward to spending a little bit more time at “home”.

However a few upcoming house-visits to his former Valley customers could see his scissor bag in tow.

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Windsor to host public meeting in Inverell, and 2NZ is invited

NEW England MP Tony Windsor will hold a public meeting todiscuss the hung parliament and answer questions from the publicin February.

Mr Windsor has already held similar meetings in Armidale andTamworth and said he was looking forward to a frank discussion with localpeople.

Tony Windsor

In his press released to announce the meeting, Mr Windsorsaid Inverell had punched above its weight for a town its size, in terms of itsinfluence on national policy during this parliament.

He then listed local people who he had spoken to duringdiscussions about policy.

“Input from Dan Ryan at Boss Engineering led to the carbonfarming package including a rebate for no-till farming equipment, whilerepresentations made by Keri Brown of Inverell Trucking ensured heavy vehicletransport was excluded from the carbon pricing scheme, ultimately saving thetransport industry $1.6 billion.

“Discussions with Ed Evans, who has commercialised his‘Safer Gates’ design for cattle yards, were followed by an expansion of agovernment safety scheme to help pay for cattle yard safety upgrades.”

Mr Windsor said the National Broadband Network would berolled out to towns and rural areas surrounding Inverell with the delivery offixed wireless services in 2013.

“I will also continue to push the Federal government tocommit funding to the Gonski reforms, which will deliver an historic boost tothe quality of education in country schools,” he added.

But Mr Windsor said Inverell had been let-down badly in thestate political arena by a failure to put forward the Armidale Hospitalredevelopment for a share of the $1.8 billion federal fund he had negotiatedespecially for regional hospitals, which meant Inverell would have to wait evenlonger for a hospital upgrade.

“I will also be discussing this viewpoint that my effortsfollowing the last election to carefully analyse the policies of both majorparties and then determine which one would offer the best deal for local peoplesomehow equates to trashing the so-called ‘Independent brand’,” Mr Windsorsaid.

“Radio Nationals” welcome to attend

Mr Windsor said he was inviting all community members toattend, regardless of their political persuasion and launched a scathing attackon Inverell radio station 2NZ.

“I would particularly welcome questions from RadioNationals, also known as 2NZ,” Mr Windsor said.

“Radio Nationals is the only media outlet in the New Englandthat places more value on political posturing than the interests of its owncommunity.

“A prime example of this is their long-running attacks onthe one piece of infrastructure that can remove the disadvantages of distancefor country people: the NBN.

“I would also welcome any evidence from Radio Nationals ofthis mythical $100 lamb roast that was supposed to be a consequence of pricingcarbon.”

Mr Windsor has previously questioned the impartiality of theradio station.

In 2010 he saidanything the station did needed to be taken with a grain of saltfollowing a poll on the carbon tax.

Richard Torbay, whois ironically now the Nationals candidate for New England, defended the stationat the time saying it had always been fair to him as an independent.

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Health concerns regarding the local water

LONG TERM Esperance residents have expressed health concerns regarding the local water supply.

Joyce Pearce, a resident for 40 years, and Kayleen Freeman,who has lived in Esperance intermittently for 50 years, said that the vastmajority of residents purchase bottled water or source rainwater instead ofdrinking the local water supply, due to its smell and taste.

“I refuse to drink the town water and source it from Dalyupinstead,” Mrs Pearce said.

“It’s not so much the unpleasant smell and taste that botherme, it’s the fact that chlorine, calgon and fluoride are added to the water andI worry what effect these chemicals could have on my health.

“I believe that fluoride dulls the mind and creates apathy,which is why a former United Kingdom Prime Minister famously suggested addingmore of the chemical to Ireland’s water supply.”

Mrs Freeman completed a Curtin University research studyinto Esperance water in 1999 and said she became ‘alarmed’ at her findings.

“As part of my study, I researched the addition of fluorideto the Esperance water supply with the approval of the Esperance Water SupplyDepartment,” Mrs Freeman said.

Water Corporation Regional Manager Hugh Lavery said that thewater supplied in Esperance meets all health-related criteria set out in theAustralian Drinking Water Guidelines.

“We are required to add fluoride in accordance with theFlouridation of Public Water Supplies Act 1966, which is administered by theDepartment of Health,” Mr Lavery said.

He also said that calgon is added to the water supply toreduce scale build up in hot water systems and electrical appliances, whichoccurs due to the level of hardness of water in the area.

“Due to the hydrogeology of the borefield from which theEsperance drinking water is drawn, there are elevated levels of salinity andhardness which affect the aesthetic characteristics of the water.

“Reducing these levels requires complex and expensive watertreatment, which currently does not form part of the Corporation’s capitalinvestment program … which is prioritised across the state with priority toensuring provisions for growth, drinking water quality and meeting regulatorystandards.”

Minister for Water Bill Marmion released the Esperance WaterReserve drinking water source protection plan on October 31, which he said will“protect the high quality of Esperance drinking water.”

When asked if he had tasted Esperance drinking water,Minister Marmion said that he had drunk the town water on numerous occasions.

“I understand some of the community are concerned about thetaste of the water,” he said.

“However, I can assure residents that the WaterCorporation places the highest priority on the provision of safe drinking waterand the water supplied in Esperance meets all health-related criteria as setout in Australian Drinking Water Guidelines

ESPERANCE residents Kayleen Freeman and Joyce Pearce are concerned about the level of fluoride in the town water supply and its effect on human health.

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On your marks

(back) Brandon Merrick, Kyle Wilson, Remus Watson and Andrew Gray with (front) Connor McDonald, Adam Gray and Isobella Cameron preparing for the New Year Athletics Carnival at Barden Park. Photo: BELINDA SOOLEORGANISERS of Dubbo’s annual New Year Athletics Carnival are preparing themselves for a late rush of entries as the 2013 event fast approaches.

The two-day carnival will be held on January 5 to 6 at the Barden Park athletics complex, with events catering for athletes ranging in age from under-6s to over-80s.

Dubbo Athletics Club president David Williams said planning for the carnival is on track, however, with final entries not confirmed just yet the small but enthusiastic organising committee is getting itself ready for the business part of the preparations. “Traditionally our entries come in late. We have a few already but those last few days before the entries close are always the busiest,” Williams, who is also vice-chairman of Dubbo Combined Athletics, said.

“The zone carnival was held at Coonamble on December 8 to 9 then the focus will be on Dubbo.

“Our carnival is a timed event so every event is run at a particular time but we can’t put the program together until we have all the entries so our aim is to have the program complete by Christmas, enjoy some family time and then get going from just after new year with the final part of preparations.”

This year the club attracted 320 entries for the event and Williams said he and his committee were keen to keep that number going in an upward spiral.

“We’ve had a steady increase in competitors over the past two or three years, which has been good,” he said. “Our goal is to at least the 320 we had for the last carnival, if not improve on that number again.”

Meanwhile, a planned upgrade of the Barden Park complex is moving forward with tenders for the design currently being sought.

William said the project is scheduled to start in June of next year.

“From what we’ve been told the timeframe to start is next June and all being well it would be finished by June of 2014 which is very exciting,” he said.

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Truth is out there

John ‘Cooka’ Campbell and his mates with the UFO that adorned their backyard in 1974.’It was definitely a conversation starter,” recalls John ”Cooka” Campbell about his post-high school days when a spaceship took pride of place in the backyard of his Canberra share house.

”The white flying saucer was there when I moved into 14 Currie Crescent, Kingston, in the early 1970s and still there when I left some six years or so later,” the long-time Canberra resident explains.

”You’d go to parties and people would ask where you lived, and you’d reply ‘oh in the house with a white UFO in the backyard’, and everyone would want to come and see it,” Cooka chuckles.

Regular readers of this column will identify the UFO as a futuro – a prefabricated Finnish-designed building of the late 1960s-early 1970s. The polyester plastic and fibreglass domed structures were initially intended for use as ski lodges in remote locations but due to their quirky appearance ended up being transformed for all sorts of uses, from cafes to brothels. ”Just before I moved in it was used as a real estate office to help sell new developments in the area,” recalls Cooka, who during his six years at Currie Crescent, embraced the striking structure for anything but business. ”It was party central – we had many an all-nighter in the spaceship blaring some Jimi Hendrix and the Doors on our stereo while putting away a few cases of long necks.”

”Those times back in the ’70s were wild, it was party after party – it was the era of living free and easy.”

Although the futuro didn’t belong to them, Cooka and his housemates became quite protective of their out-of-this-world backyard feature. ”One day I came home from work at lunch to find the hatch lowered and a bunch of boys from St Eddies (Edmund’s) drinking and smoking inside,” says Cooka, who promptly told the truant students that if it wasn’t clean in an hour, he’d be ”letting their teachers know”. ”They left it absolutely spotless,” Cooka smirks, adding, ”it was probably the best clean it ever had while it was in our yard.”

Cooka and fellow housemate Walter Shafron believe ”their” flying saucer is the very same futuro that ended up at the Dickson Planetarium and ultimately on the University of Canberra campus near Zierholz Brewery, where this column recently reported (Beam Me Up, UC, September 8) that a number of researchers are trying to determine its pedigree. ”Given its history in Currie Crescent, I guess it’s quite apt that it’s ended up ‘landing’ outside a pub,” Cooka muses.

Leo Vredenbregt, formerly of Perth and now of Ngunnawal, recalls in the 1970s a similarly glossy white futuro located beside the Leach Highway in the Perth suburb of Willetton.

”It disappeared, but I just discovered that it’s been rotting in a backyard somewhere in the hills of Perth for the last 20 years or so,” Vredenbregt laments.

”Apparently its now for sale for about $10,000.”

During the week, this column’s bushwalking correspondent, Pastor John Evans, did his best job at impersonating Mr Claus while attempting to scale 16 of Kosciuszko National Park’s highest peaks in just two days. Unfortunately bad weather kept the red suit-clad Evans from accomplishing his feat.

”We got blown, rained and whited-out off the Main Range – got 10, but missed Kosciuszko and the Rams Head Range,” reports a disappointed Evans, who adds, ”the Santa pants ended down around me knees while pounding back the Summit Road to Charlotte Pass.”

Oh dear, I can imagine Mrs Claus blushing at such a sight and more importantly, let’s hope the real Santa doesn’t baulk at delivering the goodies if a bit of bad weather sets in this Monday evening.

Even more common than sightings of the jolly old fella from the North Pole at this time of year are cicadas whose voluminous song this season seems to be more vociferous than in recent years. In fact, Sharyn Payne of Kambah reckons the loudest cicadas hang out in the old trees of Curtin. ”We [my husband and I] were born and bred in Canberra and in our travels, we have not heard such loud cicadas as the ones in Curtin,” Sharyn claims.

During the week, I headed out to Cotter Avenue to check-out the latest summer craze. Just near the new pedestrian bridge across the Cotter River adjacent to the playground in Cotter Avenue is an old weir.

For the ultimate heat-wave cool-off, if you lie on your back in the water just upstream of here, the river will slowly carry you downstream before increasing pace and eventually jettisoning you over the weir and then under the footbridge (duck, or you’ll hit your head)! Soon after the footbridge, the river flow decreases and it’s easy to get out.

During the week, I tracked down one of the few remaining wooden muzzles in the area – belonging to Phyl McKey of Garran.

McKey who fetched the wooden muzzle from a dusty box of family farm memorabilia under her home says, ”My dad first used it on the Monaro in the 1920s but it had been passed onto him, so my best guess is that it dates back to the 1880s.”

So how does the contraption work? ”It was attached to the calf’s nose and its simple design allowed the calf to graze, but when it put its head up to try and suckle from its mother the wooden flap would block the calf’s mouth, thereby preventing it from drinking milk,” McKey explains.

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