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Clarence Valley News

Clarence community farewells JK

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Clarence community farewells JK

By Tim Howard

More than 150 mourners made the way to the pews of St Mary’s Catholic Church, Grafton, last Wednesday to farewell John Joseph Kenny.

Mr Kenny, who died peacefully on August 28 at the age of 88 lived a life dedicated to his family, his community and his work.

Eldest son David delivered a eulogy during his funeral service which revealed the extent of his dedication to all three.

He told how JK, as he was affectionately known, gave up a promising school career at the age of 15 for an apprenticeship at The Daily Examiner, where he spent the entire 52 years of his working life.

All except for six months of National Service in 1953, where his prowess with a rifle led one of his NCOs to comment he was not just a good shot, but a “marksman”.

In 1965 Mr Kenny and Dianne Mason married in St Mary and in 1969 they welcomed their first child, David and later another son, Peter.

During the 1970s Mr Kenny became involved with the Clarence horse racing community.

It was a role Clarence River Jockey Club chief executive officer Michael Beattie remembered well and paid tribute to in an article posted on social media.

“The Clarence River Jockey Club (CRJC) and local racing identities were shocked and saddened to learn of the sad passing of John Kenny last week.

“A prominent figure amongst the Clarence Valley community, and a regular attendee at race meetings in Grafton, Mr Kenny was a life member, former director, and proud ambassador of the CRJC.

“He was well known and widely respected across the region for his love of horse racing and his unwavering commitment to the sport which spanned across 50 years.

“Mr Kenny served as an assistant race day judge at Grafton between the early 1970s and 1980s, prior to his appointment as an official judge, a position he held for 10 years.

“He served on the board of the CRJC from 1982 until 2018, and ensured every winning owner was made to feel special when their horse was first past the post.

“Renowned for his willingness to always offer others a helping hand, Mr Kenny was strongly supported in his work with the CRJC by his devoted wife Dianne, who like her husband, also dedicated countless hours to the promotion of the club.

“Mr Kenny will forever be remembered as a true gentleman, who always made racegoers feel welcome.”

Mr Beattie also shared his personal feelings as a colleague of Mr Kenny

He was working as an assistant judge when I first started as an official way back in 1975,” he recalled.

“In fact, we often joked that we were the two oldest things on Grafton Racecourse, with the exception of the heritage grandstand.

“John has been a wonderful board member and ambassador in my time with the CRJC.

“He was always at me with ideas of how things could be improved for both members and guests alike.”

Mr Kenny shared his other passions, golf, fishing and shooting with his family and David remembered his father’s determination to get to his favourite Yamba Golf Course for a game even as his health deteriorated.

He also recalled his father’s involvement with the St Vincent de Paul Society in Grafton, working for decades selflessly behind the scenes helping the less well off in the community.

“If more people had his honesty, integrity and compassion, what a wonderful world it would be,” David Kenny said of his father.

“He was a special human being.”

Disclosure: As a journalist I worked at The Daily Examiner with JK for the final years of his working life. His passion for the paper and the community were invaluable. Much of the contributed copy volunteered to the paper came past his eyes and he was an astute judge of what was fit to print and what was not. That judgement alone was a worth much to a newspaper.

John Kenny followed his many passions in a long and distinguished life in the Clarence Valley.

John Kenny’s coffin is carried to the hearse following his funeral in St Mary’s Catholic Church, Grafton, on September 7.

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Clarence Valley News

NSW BUDGET: NOTHING FOR RICHMOND AND CLARENCE VALLEYS COST OF LIVING CRISIS, BUT SOME WINS

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NSW BUDGET Cost of Living

NSW BUDGET: NOTHING FOR RICHMOND AND CLARENCE VALLEYS COST OF LIVING CRISIS, BUT SOME WINS

 

The NSW Labor Government’s 18 June Budget does nothing to alleviate the growing cost of living problems in the Richmond and Clarence Valleys, although there is some good news for the region, according to Clarence Nationals MP Richie Williamson.

“Everywhere I go, every local I talk to, they all say the same thing: we’re struggling with rising costs – why isn’t the Government helping?” Mr Williamson said.

Mr Williamson said that he was all for working cooperatively with the Government, but there was mounting evidence Sydney Labor is “out of town, out of touch and the budget is out of control”.

“Calls to reinstate the $250 fuel card for regional seniors, students and apprentices have fallen on deaf ears, but Sydney seniors now enjoy $2-a-day Gold Passes on Sydney’s massive and massively subsidised public transport system as well as toll relief for Sydneysiders,” Mr Williamson said.

“Calls to save the Ulmarra ferry from Labor’s axe met a similar fate, at the same time as Labor is buying a fleet of new ferries for Sydney and took over another Sydney ferry service that has lower patronage than Ulmarra to Southgate.”

Mr Williamson did acknowledge the Government’s ongoing funding of the previous Liberals and Nationals Government’s Grafton Base Hospital rebuild, the allocation of $6.2m in the fight against White Spot disease in local rivers as well as a “welcome” $90m boost for the Resilient Homes Program, following the 2022 floods.

“These are crumbs compared to what Labor is lavishing on its Sydney heartland,” Mr Williamson cautioned.

“The Richmond and Clarence Valleys provide the timber for Sydney homes, the beef for Sydney dinners as well as the sugar and milk for Sydney cappuccinos.

“That needs to be acknowledged and we deserve our fair share,” Mr Williamson concluded.”

 

For more Richmond Valley news, click here.

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Clarence Valley News

At last. Shirley Adams gets her Way

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Shirley Adams Way Sign

At last. Shirley Adams gets her Way

 

By Tim Howard

A jarring anomaly that has irked Clarence Valley residents from the moment it was first unveiled is about to be rectified.

Next month the name of the road that crosses the Balun Bindarray Bridge in Grafton will be changed from Shirley Way to Shirley Adams Way, finally giving correct recognition of the first female mayor of Grafton and a community champion.

Since November 2022 the section or road has been signposted as Shirley Way, setting off protests from every level of the community.

It has taken concerted efforts from Mrs Adam’s husband John, daughter Virginia, Clarence MP Richie Williamson and the Clarence Valley Council to get naming authority the Geographical Names Board to accept the community’s wishes.

The Adams family requested the approaches be renamed “Shirley Adams Way” to properly recognise Shirley Adams and ensure her memory lives on.

But the board refused the original request to use Mrs Adams full name because it had only recently introduced a ruling banning two word names because of the risk of confusion when directing emergency services units to specific addresses.

Since coming to office in March 2023, the Minister for Regional Transport and Roads Jenny Aitchison kickstarted a special process to allow for Shirley Way to be renamed Shirley Adams Way, in line with the family’s request.

After a public consultation took place earlier this year, Minister Aitchison last week approved the change in name and Shirley Adams Way will be the new name of the road from late July.

The minister said Ms Adams was the first female mayor of the then Grafton City Council, a former Jacaranda Queen, Jacaranda Festival President in 1976 and 1977, a Jacaranda Festival life member and was deeply involved in NSW Girl Guides, the United Hospital Auxiliary, Meals on Wheels, Clarence River Historical Society, Country Women’s Association, and many other organisations.

She was awarded an Order of Australia Medal in 1989.

“Last week I was pleased to approve the renaming of Shirley Way in Grafton to Shirley Adams Way,” Minister Aitchison said.

“This is a fitting tribute to Shirley Adams OAM who served as Grafton’s first female mayor and was also the first woman to lead the Country Mayor’s Association of NSW.

“In recognition of her services to local government and the Girl Guide Movement, Ms Adams also received a medal in the Order of Australia (OAM).”

Former Grafton Mayor Shirley Adams, with her husband John Adams

Former Grafton Mayor Shirley Adams, who died in June 2020, with her husband John Adams. Mr Adams has lobbied the government tirelessly for the name change on the bridge approaches.

The Minister said renaming the road was something she had supported since it first came to her attention.

“To honour Shirley’s legacy, it’s only right we rename this road, she said. “It’s come after years of campaigning and advocacy and is a great win for Shirley’s family and the broader Clarence Valley community.

“Everyone has always wanted the road to be renamed Shirley Adams Way and I am pleased that the NSW Labor Government has been able to make this happen.”

Ms Aitchison said the number of submissions calling for the change had been “overwhelming”.

“Given this and the special place Shirley Adams holds in the hearts of Clarence Valley community, I felt renaming the road to Shirley Adams Way was a simple, common sense way to honour the memory and legacy of a trailblazing woman,” she said.

“I am in awe of Shirley’s service to the Grafton and Clarence Valley communities.

“In coming weeks Transport for NSW will install new signage to mark the changing of the road name and the team will work with relevant organisations to notify them of the change.”

The minister has also reached out to the Adams family to notify them of the impending changes.

“I’ve spoken to Shirley’s daughter Virginia and she is just thrilled, she said.

“I’m looking forward to visiting Grafton to meet with Shirley’s family and friends to celebrate the renaming of the road when the new signs go up.

There has been bi-partisan support for the change, with the Minister acknowledging the work of Mr Williamson.

“I want to thank Richie Williamson MP and the Clarence Valley Council for their ongoing advocacy,” she said.

Mr Williamson said the change “just makes sense”.

“The name Shirley Adams is synonymous not only in Grafton but across the Clarence Valley and it is a fitting tribute to a remarkable lady and a dear friend who was a staunch advocate not only for her local community, but in encouraging women’s participation in public life and decision making,” he said.

“Shirley had a burning desire to make Grafton a better place and had a genuine love for the people of the city.”

Mr Williamson said the family would be relieved that the right decision had finally been made.

“I know her husband John Adams OAM and family are incredibly proud as is the community of Shirley’s legacy,” he said.

“The renaming of the road is a fitting tribute in honour and recognition of her service to local government, the girl guide movement and the wider community, and I look forward to the road officially being renamed with her family in the very near future.”

 

For more local Grafton news, click here.

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Clarence Valley News

Plan to turn ferry loss into $8.9mil windfall

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Ulmarra Ferry Windall

Plan to turn ferry loss into $8.9mil windfall

 

By Tim Howard

A plan has been hatched to turn the Clarence Valley’s loss of the Ulmarra Ferry service earlier this month into an $8.9 million windfall.

A report from the Clarence Valley Council general manager Laura Black to the June council meeting on Tuesday said the loss of the ferry was a chance for the council to “advocate for compensatory funds” to fund infrastructure in the region.

Ms Black’s report noted the Transport for NSW advised the cost of replacing the ferry would have been $4million with annual running costs of more than $800,000 annually.

“Total funds sought are $8,883,950, to be allocated to Clarence Valley Council,” the report read.

The recommendation to the council was

That Council:

  1. writes to Local State Member Richie Williamson seeking his support in advocating for an allocation of funds to the Clarence Valley in lieu of continuation of the Ulmarra to Southgate Ferry service by Transport NSW.
  2. writes to the Minister for Regional Transport, the Hon. Jenny Aitchison requesting:
    1. funding totalling $8,883,950 to enable the upgrade of 5kms of Lawrence Road from Great Marlow to Grafton and, completion of the Ulmarra Riverside Precinct Bailey Park connectivity and Small Park upgrade and, completion of the Grafton Waterfront Precinct from Clarence Street to the Grafton Bridge.
    2. Transport NSW prioritises its commitment to design and deliver pedestrian access across Big River Way in the town of Ulmarra to facilitate connectivity in the town.
    3. Funds be made available to Transport NSW to prioritise the upgrade of the Pound and Villiers Street intersection to a signalised intersection as this is both a residual matter relating to the Grafton Bridge duplication and an intersection that will experience increased vehicular movements as a result of cessation of the Ulmarra to Southgate Ferry.

The report said a number of key projects in receipt of government funding had been underfunded.

For example the 5km Lawrence Rd – Great Marlow Rd to Grafton project had received $2.212 million, but the construction estimate was $7,341 mil, more than $5 million short of the mark.

Two projects in Ulmarra, the refurbishment of the riverside precinct of Bailey Park and the showground, Small Park were also in need of extra funding.

A full report on the council decision will appear in a future edition of The Northern Rivers Times.

 

For more local Clarence Valley news, click here.

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