Caithness Courier headlines for March 19, 2012

CAITHNESSESSIANS are celebrating the news the Queen's baton relay for the Glasgow Commonwealth Games is to visit the county. The baton is coming to Thurso on July 9, before taking a tour around Orkney and returning to Caithness on July 11, to go to John O Groats and Wick. The visit is being seen as a great opportunity to get more people, especially children, involved in sport and there are hopes that everyone will join in the fun in the run-up to the games.

SANDSIDE Estate, which as owned by Geoffrey Minter and includes Reay golf course, has been taken over by far north businessmen William Calder and Jock Campbell. The estate near Reay went up for sale after parent company Magnohard Ltd, was put into administration at the end of 2012. A deal for an undisclosed sum, has been agreed with the administrators it was confirmed yesterday. Mr Calder said options were being considered but he and Mr Campbell hope to grow the business.

PUPILS and staff at Farr High are preparing to celebrate a milestone when the school marks its 50th birthday. Arrangements are in hand to mark of the opening of the school. Though it officially opened on May 18, 1964, pupils had already been in the new building since March 2 when, though a tractor and trailer was employed to transport heavier items, senior pupils in primary and secondary classes had carried their desks and some of their books up the brae from the old school and church halls which had previously been in use.

A PLAN to house the Dounreay Fast Reactor control room in London is "quite extraordinaary" according to former Dounreay worker and well-known historian Iain Sutherland. He believes the iconic relic of the site's days as a fast reactor trailblazer should be accommodated in Caithness and said that would be possible if the authorities "really bothered themselves"

A new business is about to open in Wick in premises previously occupied by Graham Begg. The Kitchen Place is being set up in Whitechapel Road by local man, Bryan Coghbill, and is expected to be trading by May. It will focus primarily on kitchens and bathrooms.

TWO killer whales have been spotted off the Caithness coast in an unusally early sighting for the county's records. The orcas were reported by a surfer last week between Gills Bay and Scotlands Haven and Caithness Sea Watching's regional co-ordinator, Colin Bird, said it only added to the feeling that there must be a group moving around the area.

THE prospective operator of a wave power scheme off Bettyhill is to hold a series of open meetings to update the public about its plans for the subsea venture. In 2012, Pelmis Wave Power were awarded a lease by the Crown Estate for a tract of seabed off Farr Point. It had then intended to developthe first phase - capable of producing up to 15 megawatts of power- this summer and more phases involving a further 35MW by 2020 though it is understood the schedule has slipped back.

A FLAGSHIP 1 million pot for Highland communities willing to take responsibility for services such as grass-cutting or gritting, is largely unspent, it has emerged. Highland Council's community challenge fund was launched in January last year but successful applicants have been thin on the ground and ony two have secured grants so far.

A FORMER Highland firefighter fears the national brigade could be "toiling" to cope with major wildfires because so many stations are short of staff. Highland Councillor Fraser Parr who spent 30 years in the fire service, believes manpower availability is the worst he has ever known.

A Wick researcher is appealing for help to identity a group of Caithnessians in a picture taiken more than 80 years ago in Patagonia. The photograph was found in the 1929 Christmas Day edition of the John of Groat Journal while Ian Leith was searching the North Highland Archives in Wick Library.