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10-Feb-12, 11:31
John O’ Groat Journal review: February 10, 2012

THE body of a man has been found in the Thurso East area following a search by police, coastguards, the local lifeboat and dog handlers. That was confirmed by Northern constabulary headquarters in Inverness, yesterday afternoon. A spokesman said: “The discovery was made at around 12.30 pm on Thursday afternoon. Enquiries are at a very early stage and the remains have not yet been identified. Police have been searching for missing Thurso man, Stephen McGurk, and, although no positive identification has been made, his family have been made aware of the development.

ALSO on the front page, the SNP has pledged to resurrect area committees across the Highlands in a bid to “put power at the heart of communities”-if it wins control of the region’s local authority in May. The party’s group on Highland Council has announced the first of its manifesto policies ahead of the election. It wants to undertake a radical overhaul of the current setup which sees the vast majority of meetings and decisions taken centrally in Inverness.

A CAITHNESS village post office is due to close temporarily. It was confirmed yesterday that the facility at Berriedale will shut its doors on Tuesday March 27, following the resignation of the sub-postmaster and the withdrawal of the premises for post office use. The company said it is making every effort to continue a post office in the community. Field change adviser, Kenny Lamont, apologised to any customers who may be affected by the closure and said the company is exploring its options for keeping the service going.

INSIDE lifeboat staff in Caithness have been praised for their dedication after it was revealed they rescued 54 people at sea last year, with no fatalities. RNLI stations in Thurso and Wick were involved in 34 call outs, according to new figures released by the lifeboats institution. Wick was the most active, attending 21 call outs-including four during night time. Thurso, meanwhile responded to 13 call outs, including six at night time and two in gale-force conditions. Both coxswains said they were delighted with their crew members, saying their attitudes to the job resulted in success.

A RETIRED Caithness minister yesterday welcomed a proposal by a new health and social care partnership, to take a fresh look at the future plans for the Dunbar Hospital in Thurso. The Rev Ronnie Johnstone was critical of the west Caithness redesign as it would have led to the closure of the 12 inpatient beds at the hospital and a reduction of opening hours at the minor injuries unit. However, he is pleased the proposed new Highland Health and Social Care Partnership- the body which is to replace the North Highland Cmmunity Health |Partnership and similar organisations in the Highlands, in April-wants to do things differently. An NHS Highland spokeswoman said a report set out a new approach and culture to support better collaboration and decision making.

HIGHLAND COUNCIL’s £602 million budget for the next 12 years was rubber-stamped at a meeting in Inverness yesterday – despite members attacking the controversial council tax freeze. Some independent councillors claimed the Scottish Government’s continued freeze on the charge which is used to fund the council, was not benefiting the poor and impacting on local democracy in the region. The independent Liberal Democrat, Labour administration’s proposal on how its finances will be spent during the 2012/13 were formally approved.

THE immediate future of the energy industry in Caithness lies in the area’s ability to cash in on the growth of the Scottish offshore wind sector. Business representatives in the Far North say there is huge potential to create jobs in line with developments in new technologies taking place across the country. Their views come after the recent Offshore Wind and Supply Chain Conference and Exhibition in Aberdeen, where local businesses and organisations were in attendance. In a speech at the event, First Minister, Alex Salmond, outlined a target to create 20,000 jobs which are expected to be generated by growth in the sector by 2020 and which could bring £7 billion a year to the Scottish economy. Caithness Renewables Ltd director, Louise Smith, said that local businesses need to show how they can play a part in offshore wind sector growth.

A CAITHNESS farmer sustained kidney damage when he was kicked by a cow. Murdo MacBeath was taken to Caithness General Hospital following the incident at his holding at Lybster, Forse, on Monday, January 30. The accident happened when the 65-year-old, who lives at Folly Farm, Claredon, was testing his herd for tuberculosis with vet Frank Steven and local farmer, Colin Murkle. While attempting to move one of his continental cross cattle into a crate, to receive an injection, the animal kicked Mr Macbeath to the ribs, knocking him to the ground. Despite being knocked out of action, Mr MacBeath, who was treated at Caithness General Hospital, is slowing recovering and is able to carry out lighter duties on his farm with the assistance of locals to whom he is very grateful.

CARERS IN Caithness have relied for over two decades on the help of a charity group which has offered them a break from their responsibilities. Now, the group is calling for new faces to come forward to help it continue to fund respite care in the Far North. The Crossroads Caithness Forum has, since 1988, raised thousands of pounds to provide service locally for those who need a helping hand. Now, members are looking for new volunteers to join the group to help organise various fundraising events throughout the year.

AND finally...the Dounreay dome may be given a luminous green colour in the next few months. But local residents need not panic, as the dome in question is set to be a replica far tastier than the iconic landmark which has stood for over 50 years. Caithness Horizons’ attempts to create a model of the dome made entirely out of jelly are only one step from becoming a reality.