John O’ Groat Journal review: October 14, 2011

THE p
ossible loss of up to 11 jobs at a Co-op store in Thurso, was described as “horrendous news for the town”, the paper’s front page lead story reveals. Local community councillor, Don Smith, hit out at a plan, which will lead to staff hours at the Meadow Lane store being cut by 425 a week. That could result in the equivalent of 11 full-time posts, one fifth of the workforce, being lost . A spokesman for the Co-operative Group insisted the reduction in hours is not driven by the economic downturn, or by competition from other supermarkets, but is a consequence of a UK-wide review.

A WOMAN
who stole 22,000 from Wick gala funds while its treasurer, has avoided jail and been given more time to pay back the outstanding cash. Karen Spruce (57) of Mill Street, Stornoway, was previously convicted of embezzling the money which plunged the annual festival in Wick where she formerly lived, into serious financial chaos. She was given the breathing space at Stornoway Sheriff Court, earlier this week.

ALSO
on the front page...two members of a Clackmannanshire heritage group were present, as a replacement seat, commemorating the famous Scots geologist and botanist, Robert Dick, was unveiled in Thurso on Monday. The Caithness stone seat, which adjoins the children’s play park at Millbank, has been funded by Thurso Heritage Society. It overlooks Thurso River which was among the places Dick amassed a nationally important collection of plants, insects and fossils after he arrived as a teenager, to set up a baker’s shop in the town.

INSIDE
...a Caithness stable is celebrating, after returning home with five awards from the biggest horse show in the British calendar. Russell Skelton and James Munro from Team Skelton, at Spittal, said that their success at the Horse of the Year Show at the NEC in Birmingham was their finest achievement to date. The pair, who set up the stable in Caithness, two years ago, specialise in producing show horses for the ring and competition at the top level.

FEARS
that dimming streets lights in Caithness could lead to a rise in anti-social behaviour and affect road safety, have been voice by local councillors. Wick representative Graeme Smith and his Thurso colleague Donnie Mackay, have expressed concerns about Caithness towns and villages taking part to a street-lighting trial over the darker winter months. The Highland councillors are worried about the impact it could have on public and road safety, and Mr Smith said reduced lighting may lead to an increase in anti-social behaviour.

JOBS
are set to be created, after a local firm was awarded a contract to carry out work at John O’ Groats. Bower-based timber frame manufacturer, Norscot Joinery Ltd, agreed a 1 million deal with Natural Retreats as part of the regeneration project at the hamlet. As part of the contract, Norscot will be designing and providing frames and structures for 23 apartments, which are to be built as part of the redevelopment. It has also been confirmed that the firm will be increasing its workforce towards the end of the year to meet the demands of the contract.

VOLUNTEERS,
who patrol the streets at closing time in Britain’s major cities, may soon be heading to Caithness. Street pastors are being considered for Thurso and Wick after the Ascension Trust (Scotland) received a grant of 4182 to assist it in expansion plans to introduce the initiative to 16 new communities in Scotland. However, there has been a mixed response to the proposal from local clergy, who, while they support the initiative generally, question whether it is needed in Caithness. The charity trains volunteers to patrol town centres on Friday and Saturday nights, talking to people and providing a calming presence in a bid to quash any trouble and make the areas safer.

A BID
to turn a historic Caithness grain store and corn mill into a 4 million cultural and residential hub for the performing arts, has received a boost with the award of a 430,080 grant from the Scottish Government. The money, part of a total allocation of 1.2 million given to six projects by Historic Scotland, will be used to stabilise and repair the early 18th-century Ham Girnal. It is expected the work will start next September and be completed in March 2014.

AN
aerial bombardment is what Wick Academy can expect when they meet one of this season’s challengers for the Highland League crown. The Scorries will be making the trip to Moray where they will take on an impressive Forres Mechanics outfit at Mosset Park. The Can-Cans currently sit third in the table, two points off neighbours Nairn County, but have two games to spare. The hosts, who are known as the tallest team in the league with a number of players well over six feet, have made their height advantage count by capitalising on setpieces to win games.