Caithness Courier headlines for October 2

PEOPLE in Watten are celabrating the successful conclusion of a community fundraaising drive to consign to history the "worst playpark in Caithness" and install a spanking new replacement. The project to install an ultra-modern adventure playground has been spearheaded by Watten Improvements Group whose latest grant award has allowed it to reach its target of 105,000.

NHS Highland would need permission from the Scottish government before it could proceed with any plans to permanently close a currently-mothballed dementia ward in Caithness. Critics of the threat hanging over the Harmsworth unit at theTown and Countgy Hospital in Wick, have asked whether such a move could be implemented without a referral to Holyrood. NHS Highland north area manager Bob Silverwood yesterday confirmed that, as the closure of the ward is only temporary, no consultation was needed, stating its future still remains undecided. But he made clear any intention to close it, permanently, would require the approval of the Scottish health minister.

DOUNREAY'S owners are being urged to donate the site of a former social club in Thurso to the community. Local Highland councillor, Roger Saxon, has asked the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority to gift the land at Viewfirth, or the proceeds from a sale, to a good local cause. His call comes in the wake of the recent confirmation that the NDA is to sell off the site, along with other now-redundant pieces of land which it took over from the UK Atomic Energy Authority.

ALMOST 100 years ago, hundreds of men and women in Caithness fought for their country to defend the freedoms which we all enjoy today. Now a project is under way, to make sure every individual who fought and survived, or died during action in the First World War, is recognised for their contributions. The Thurso branch of the Royal British Legion Scotland is undertaking the task of tracing the missing pieces to put together a complete Caithness roll of honour of servicemen and women who fought between 1914 and 1918.

BITING bedbugs almost resulted in Barry Davis being forced to postpone his trip to Wick Academy's Harmsworth Park which became the 1000th football ground he had visited. The retired BT worker had been on holiday in Orkney and, having visited 999 stadiums in the past, his trip to the most northerly senior football ground was set to mark his milestone.

A LACK of financial incentive may be hampering efforts to fill job vacancies in the far north rather than the area's geographical location being an obstacle. The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority said interviewees had complained that positions advertised at Dounreay in the past, did not pay well enough when compared to other areas of the country. Now nuclear chiefs have said that Dounreay and other sectors may have to look at increasing salaries to attract applications to senior positions in Caithness.

CAITHNESS is not among the communities in the Highlands who have signed up for "a citizens army" to clear snow and grit footpaths for OAP neighbours than their urban counterparts, it has emerged. So far, 18 out of a potential 153 community councils have agreed to be included on the list which will see salt and basic equipment like grit shovels supplied. That is 13 more than last year although there has, so far, been no offer from Caithness.

A CHARITY which gives quilts and blankets to sick, disabled or disadvantaged children is looking for someone new to cover its Caithness patch. Project Linus UK aims to provide a sense of security and comfort to sick and traumatised babies, children and teenagers by giving them new, homemade patchwork quilts and knitted or chrocheted blankets and the charity's current representative in the area is moving on after four years.

And finally...a huge perserved salmon caught on the River Thurso 90 years ago has been restored to its original glory, just in time for the last days of the rod season. Berwickshire-based artist, Mike Shepley, has been working on the 47-pound salmon which over the years had deteriorated. His finished work will be handed back to its home in the Ulbster Arms in Halkirk, tomorrow night. Mr Shepley who worked as a trainee architect in Thurso, in the 1960s,and completed his planning postgraduate degree in Caithness, has a passion for fishing and wrote his first angling book, Salmon, in 1974.