John O' Groat Journal headlines for August 9, 2013

DRUG users are believed to have used a primary school playground in Thurso to shoot up heroin and other illegal drugs. Youth development officers, Ashley Sinclair, was horrified to find a used needle and syringe lying in the top playground of Miller Academy in Princes Street where she works. The discovery has been highlighted as an indication of a growing drugs problem in Caithness and police are being urged to take a harder line.

THE daughter of an elderly couple, who live in a council house, have blasted an out-of-hours emergency service for taking three hours to respond to their call after water started coming in through their ceiling. Doreen Turner contacted Highland Council's housing emergency service hotline after her 92 year old parents complained water was seeping through electrical lights from an Xpelair fan at their home in Kinnaird Street, Wick.

AN L.S. Lowry painting of Wick that has emerged from a private collection, is expected to sell for over 500,000 in an upcoming auction. Bonhams will be selling the painting 'Steps in Wick' in their next sale of modern British and Irish art, on November 20 in London's New Bond Street.

A MOTHER-of-two is claiming the health of her children as well as her own, is at risk due to a delay in repairs being carried out at her council home. Samantha Stuart has lived for years at her house in Bettyhill which she said has suffered with problems of damp. She said that despite Highland Council hiring energy advisers, Pentland Energy, to carry out a survey in which it said that urgent action was required at the property, the authority has challenged the report's findings.

AFTER becoming the first woman racing driver to win a British Sprint Championship round for 43 years, Heather Calder is setting her sights on achieving even greater success on the track. Not since 1970 has a female taken the chequered flag in the competition which has been dominated by men, but the Thurso-born speedster hopes it will be the first of many.

HIGH Streets throughout the Highlands could be saved by a pop-up revolution with entrepreneurs leasing out shops on a short-term basis. The Thurso Pop-Up Shop the first of its kind in the Highlands, has reported its premises are fully booked 10 weeks in the run-up to Christmas Eve. Its success is now being highlighted as an example of how to solve the problem of boarded-up businesses in town centres.

MONDAY signals the start of the grouse-shooting season with experts predicting good returns in many Scottish estates. But the Glorious Twelth threatens to be something of an anti-climax on Caithness moors because of a combination of disease, poor habitat and climate-related issues.

THE campaign in Caithness against the bedroom tax, has gathered pace with over 100 signing up to a new Facebook page against the controversial spare-room subsidy. The page, run by Caithness Says Axe the Tax is billed as a non-party political platform for local people to raise their objection to the tax. Organiser. local Highland Councillor Alex MacLeod, says the page's rapid growth will lay the foundation for a major, grassroots protest movement in the county.