Rural roads send Debbie postal

Debbie Prest knows a thing or two about the local roads.
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As a contractor for Australia Post she travels some 44,772 kilometres every year. And up until October 2012 she served four years on Young Shire Council.

So having served time on both sides of the fence – she’s no longer content to sit in the middle.

“I’m calling you Edwina because I am fed up,” she said on Monday from her mobile phone.

At that point Deb was sitting 35 kilometres north west of Young on Blayneys Road which weaves toward the Weddin Moun-tains.

“When I was serving as a councillor [council’s director of operations] Dirk Wymer promised us the best roads in 20 years and I am asking where are they?” She said.

She’s well qualified to judge – the 287 kilometre journey Debbie takes three times a week sees her travel from Young along some of the shire’s more remote rural roads, stretching from Lirambenda in the north, across to Bimbi to the west and further west to Longhursts Road, which just skirts the edges of Morangarell. Her journey back to Young weaves through the village of Bribbaree, the back roads of Thuddungra.

On Monday she did most of this journey in her station wagon at 40 kilometres per hour. Worst roads were Ashville School Road, Blayneys Road and Barries Lane.

Peppered with potholes and water laying across the road, mud patches that have her sliding from side to side, she wonders how the people who regularly use those routes to travel to Grenfell and Forbes.

And she’s frequently asked why she doesn’tdrive a four wheel drive.

“Why should I – I’m driving on a public road – these roads should be able to be used by everyone,” she said.

“People always say you know when you’re in the Young shire because the roads are so bad but I am here to tell you as soon as you cross the creek and hit the Weddin Shire the roads are beautiful,” she said.

She contends that the funding given to council following the devastating floods of 2010 and 2012 should have been put to better use.

“We got around $4 million in funding on top of the usual allocated road funds and I can’t see how that has been spent,” she said.

“There’s no gravel on the roads, the formwork is terrible, the drains are located in inappropriate places and in some instances guide posts have been graded into the ground – I mean how much is one of those?”

She says that residents of these outlying areas were disgusted.

Rural roads send Debbie postal Baileys Road

Bribbaree village

Blayneys Road

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Scammers need to be stopped

THE Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has launched a new campaign to disrupt scammers who are conning millions of dollars from Australians every year.
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A successful trial saw the ACCC team up with businesses to firstly identify people who appeared to be at risk of being conned and then secondly to issue warning letters to those would-be victims.

Romance scams, in financial terms, account for more than a quarter of all the money Australians lost to scammers last year.

These wannabe Romeos are ripping off unwary Australians for about $25 million a year in romance scams, but all up these grubs snaffled a heart-breaking $90 million.

So if you’re sending thousands of dollars via an international wire transfer to someone in, say, western Africa, after forming an online relationship with them, you can expect the ACCC to drop you a line asking if you’re completely confident you’re not going to be scammed.

The ACCC’s fifth annual report on scam activity in Australia highlights the significant harm that these rip-offs continue to cause to our community.

According to the report, in 2013 nearly 92,000 scam-related reports were received by the ACCC, an increase of almost 10 per cent from 2012, although the amounts of cash they snaffled reportedly dropped.

“Actual losses are likely to be much higher than what is reported to the ACCC – people report scams to a number of agencies, some don’t recognise that they have fallen for a scam, and unfortunately many others are too embarrassed to report their experience,” the ACCC said.

For the third consecutive year the ACCC has seen a drop in what it calls the “conversion rate” of people who responded to an approach by a scam admirer and subsequently lost money – from 48 per cent in 2011 to 46 per cent in 2012 to 43 per cent in 2013.

However, those who were stung were hit hard because, as the ACCC reports, “financial losses continue to remain substantially disproportionate to contacts”, with dating and romance scams making up only 3 per cent of all scam-related contacts in 2013.

If you have some concerns about a romance scam – or any other type of scam, from a dodgy phone call to an email phishing scam – check out www.scamwatch.gov.au.

There are lots of tips on dealing with potential scams, as well as updates on the latest rip-offs doing the rounds.

While it’s good news, to some extent, that more people are realising they are being conned, the cost to those stung by scammers is still far too high.

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AD FEATURE: Dress your home at Emporium

BIG CHOICE: Ruth Allen at the large Charmhaven showroom this week. Picture: David StewartRUTH and Greg Allen of Emporium Blinds, Curtains, Shutters and Awnings, at Charmhaven, aren’t kidding when they say they take their work personally.
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“We’re both really passionate about what we do,” Ms Allen said.

And they understand that customers feel the same way about getting it right when adding curtains, blinds, shutters or awnings to their homes.

“We’re very honest and we’re committed to providing a very personalised touch for our customers to make sure that their window dressings will be just right,” she said.

“And if that means that the customer has to come back and see us 20 times before they feel comfortable about their decision, then that’s fine.”

Emporium Blinds, Curtains, Shutters and Awnings aims to provide quality products at affordable prices.

The Allens and their staff make the process simple for customers: from providing a free measure and quote and expert advice, to making the product, and then installing it, they handle it all.

The Charmhaven showroom stocks a range of quality fabrics from the likes of Warwick, Wilson, Rowe, Morris Kain and Nettex.

There’s every style of made-to-measure curtain and blind imaginable, in a myriad of fabrics and materials, colours and patterns.

And the made-to-measure awnings are sourced locally from a manufacturer at Kincumber, and Sydney.

Outdoor and privacy blinds are particularly popular, Ms Allen said.

Outdoor PVC blinds, typical of those featured in trendy Terrigal eateries, are increasingly being added to the decks of local homes.

Depending on the style and type chosen, they can help to block the wind and harsh afternoon summer sun.

The Allens share an immense sense of satisfaction in exceeding a customer’s expectations.

“I get very excited when people phone or drop in to tell us how happy they are with us,” she said.

“It tells us that we’ve done a great job and made them feel special.”

■ Emporium Blinds, Curtains, Shutters and Awnings is at 2 O’Hart Close, Charmhaven. Phone 4393 2100.

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Man bashed during Mount View home invasion

Police are hunting two men who bashed a 51-year-old man during a home invasion atMount View on Tuesday night.
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Central Hunter crime manager Detective Inspector John Zdrilic said the men, one armed with a bat and the other wielding a wrench, entered the Pyne Way home about 8pm.

Inspector Zdrilic said they beat the man on the head with the weapons before they stole a quantity of cash and left the premises.

A 39-year-old woman, who was also at the home during the incident, was not physically injured.

The 51-year-old man was air-lifted to John Hunter Hospital with head and arm injuries.

He is in a stable condition.

A crime scene was established at the site and forensic investigations are ongoing.

One of the offenders was described as being Caucasian while the other a Pacific Islander. Both men were of a large build.

Police are appealing for anyone with information to contact Maitland police on 4934 0200 or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

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AD FEATURE: Swimart franchisee the finest

TOP TEAM: Andrew and Hollie Morton credit their staff with Swimart Charmhaven’s success. Picture: David StewartPOOL and spa business Swimart Charmhaven has picked up a host of awards at the 2014 Swimart conference in Malaysia.
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Owner Andrew Morton returned with awards for NSW Franchisee of the Year, Best Sales Growth, and Australasian Best Sales Growth.

“We have a really motivated team of staff – that’s our 11th award in eight years, so it shows how great the staff are,” Mr Morton said.

Swimart Charmhaven has been recently renovated to include a spa showroom.

It will accommodate the arrival of the new resort and swim spas range, which is exclusive to Swimart.

The new range is powered by Waterco pumps and air blowers, which means the spas are made in Australia, Mr Morton said.

“A lot of people buy spas from overseas brands, but if they break it’s hard to get the parts to fix them,” he said.

“But because our spas are made in Australia, it ensures their quality and if there does happen to be a problem, it’s easy for us to get the necessary parts to fix it.”

There are three spa models to choose from: the Phuket, Bali or Hawaii.

Starting from $7490, the Phuket is the basic model.

But there is a large range of added extras available to fully customise any spa.

The optional add-ons range from steps and ladders to lights, subwoofer speakers in the seats, and global wi-fi.

“With the global wi-fi you can access your spa from anywhere in the world,” Mr Morton said.

“So if you go overseas and forget to turn the spa off, you can log in and do it remotely.”

Another product Mr Morton is excited about is the new chlorine-free pool system.

“It’s great for people with a chlorine allergy, asthma or eczema,” he said.

■ Visit the Swimart Charmhaven store at 1/1 O’Hart Close, Charmhaven, or call 4392 6412.

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