Drug  trafficker  avoids  jail  term

A CANNABIS-dependent drug trafficker caught with $6000 worth of marijuana avoided jail on Tuesday.

Shawn Legro, 44, was caught by police with almost 500g of cannabis at his Ballarat home on July 17, and pleaded guilty to trafficking at Ballarat Magistrates Court.

Legro, who police alleged had been trafficking cannabis intermittently for his adult life, received a 12-month community correction order.

Leading Senior Constable Pepe Brown said police searched Legro’s property on July 17 and found seven zip-lock bags containing cannabis with a street value of $6000.

The court heard that Legro admitted to selling cannabis to a nucleus of friends to sustain a marijuana habit he had developed at a young age.

Defence Lawyer Mike Wardell said Legro, who used cannabis to help with his bipolar condition, had been cannabis-free for two months.

“The scope and scale (of drug trafficking) is purely directed at sustaining his habit,” he said.

Magistrate Duncan Reynolds said Legro had displayed a significant turnaround in his drug use since the offence.

“If there’s a propensity toward mental illness, cannabis continues to exacerbate that in no uncertain way,” he said.

“You sold it and you were doing no favours to your friends by doing so.”

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Living Ballarat project ready

Worth wait: Water Minister Peter Walsh speaks at a media conference on Monday.THE completion of the Living Ballarat project provides a plan for how Ballarat will use water in the future.

The project has been widely criticised for delays and the length of time it has taken to produce results.

But Living Ballarat control board chairman Dr Mark Harris said despite the criticism, Ballarat had pioneered the program for other regions, meaning the process would be easier in the future.

“It feels fantastic to have the project finished,” he said.

“The reality was that to have the science done properly took longer than we thought. It was difficult.”

The plan has a big focus on the use of stormwater and recycled water across the region to take the pressure off current water supplies.

Water Minister Peter Walsh said a key part of the framework would be setting out what source of water would be used for what task.

“It is about having the right water for the particular program and watering that you are doing and using that to increase the liveability for your particular community,” he said.

“It is an area where Ballarat has pioneered the project. It was an issue driven by the Committee for Ballarat back in the day.”

Mr Walsh said people who criticised the project had not been well informed.

“I suppose people expect something to happen in one day. This is a whole change of how you think about the management of water in urban communities,” he said.

City of Ballarat chief executive Anthony Schinck described the result as “ground-breaking”.

“With Ballarat’s population growing so significantly, we need to provide the setting in both a regulatory form and also in terms of water-smart, sustainable urban design,” he said.

“We are certainly looking at the policy context for how we use and re-use water.”

Part of the report says the City of Ballarat will establish minimum water standards for all new buildings and subdivisions by January 2016.

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Funds to introduce Living Ballarat project across the region Benefits: MP Peter Walsh with Wendouree Primary School principal Christine Branagh and pupils from Wendouree Primary School and Ballarat Grammar. PICTURE: JUSTIN WHITELOCK

FOUR water projects worth $1.8 million will be the starting point for introducing the Living Ballarat project across the region.

The biggest funding announcement was $967,120 to connect Ballarat Grammar and Wendouree Primary School to non-drinking water supplies for irrigating their fields and gardens.

Wendouree Primary School principal Christine Branagh said in particular the announcement would help the school with its Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden program.

“I think for us it is exciting because we can maintain our kitchen garden,” she said.

“We have put a lot of effort and resources into this and we want it to be sustainable for a long time.”

Ballarat Grammar assistant headmaster Rob Gray said it was about using the right sort of water for the right task.

Mr Gray said the school had experienced some hard times during the drought and struggled to keep its fields and gardens green.

“We had been using the aquifer to water our ovals but, as you know, everyone was tapping into it and soon there was no water,” he said.

“This enables us to have decent playing fields right through a drought, should we have another drought, but let’s hope we don’t.”

Other projects included $503,900 to connect Central Highlands Agribusiness Forum and Ballarat Grammar’s Mount Rowan agricultural research facility to recycled water, $191,900 to allow Pinarc Disability Support to refurbish its office building to capture and re-use rainwater, and $132,000 for a stormwater and harvest and re-use system at Hepburn Springs Golf Club.

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Committee for Ballarat unveils logo

Thinking ahead: Committee for Ballarat chair Judy Verlin and Committee for Ballarat CEO John Kilgour with the group’s new logo. PICTURE: JUSTIN WHITELOCKTHE Committee for Ballarat has unveiled a new logo to create a better understanding of who the group is and what it does.

The rebranding includes a new tagline: “Thinking ahead.”

The change was made after a strategic review, which began in March this year, aimed at creating a greater awareness of the group’s advocacy work.

Committee for Ballarat chair Judy Verlin said the new logo better represented the fact that the group worked across the region – not just in Ballarat.

“We have a strong association with them (regional councils) – a strong Ballarat is a strong region,” she said.

“I think it has gone from the City of Ballarat as the big brother that receives everything to understanding that a strong Ballarat means a strong regional influence.”

The new branding also sets the group apart from other key stakeholders in Ballarat including the City of Ballarat and Commerce Ballarat.

The change was announced at the Committee for Ballarat Annual General Meeting held on Tuesday night.

“I think this is building on the proud history and the successes of the Committee for Ballarat,” Ms Verlin said.

“It is an indication of how we are moving on to the next stage of development.”

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Helping kids in hospital

Visitors: Run Ballarat ambassadors Tracie Kaye and Steve Moneghetti talk to Liam Dagon in the Ballarat Health Services’ children’s ward. PICTURE: LACHLAN BENCERUN Ballarat ambassadors Tracie Kaye and Steve Moneghetti saw first-hand what it was like to be inside the Ballarat Health Services’ children’s ward on Tuesday.

The pair toured the ward ahead of the October 19 fun run, where all proceeds will go the redevelopment of the children’s ward.

Darren Hutchinson, who has been in hospital too many times to count, including eight times this year, was one of the patients they visited.

The 14-year-old suffers from epilepsy and was spending the night in the children’s ward.

Two of his brothers have already signed up to Run Ballarat, and he hopes to participate on the day if he’s well enough.

Liam Dagan was in hospital for the second time, staying for a few nights with a bacteria infection. The ambassadors also spoke to him about what Run Ballarat aims to do for the hospital.

A brand new children’s ward will be built and fitted out to give children and their families the most welcoming environment possible during their time in hospital.

Construction is expected to start on the new area in 2016 and be ready in 2017.

The run will take place in less than two weeks, with options of a 12km and 6km run, a 6km walk, or a 1km run for children. The city’s main streets close for the event as joggers and walkers take over.

Paediatric and adolescent nurse unit manager Clinton Griffiths said with only four patients on Tuesday, it was a quiet day.

The children’s ward averages about 200 patients a month and will hold about 20 patients on a busy day, ranging from medical and surgical cases for infants to adolescents.

“We aim to be the centre of excellence for Victoria, we’re leading the country in some areas,” Mr Griffiths said.

“But right now we’re developing a strong plan so that our environment can match our excellence.”

He said they were talking to children and families to see what the ideal ward would be.

“We’re going to have an outdoor play space, lots of colour and single bedrooms.”

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No licence since 1987, says driver

A MAN who drove unlicensed for almost 30 years was sentenced to one month in jail on Tuesday.

Malcolm McNeight, 52, was caught twice driving illegally in the past year and on the second occasion told police he had not held a driver’s licence since 1987, Ballarat Magistrates Court heard.

Police prosecutor Leading Senior Constable Pepe Brown said McNeight was pulled over by police in the Belmont area last November, later admitting he was unlicensed but wanted to “get to a 21st (birthday party)”.

McNeight, who told police he had three cans of bourbon and coke prior to driving, had a zero blood alcohol limit imposed on him for previous offences.

On February 26, McNeight, who served a prison sentence in 2004 for unlicensed driving, was apprehended by police driving in Sebastopol and later told officers he had been unlicensed since he was 24.

Defence lawyer David Taminika told the court McNeight, a single parent, was “feeling the pinch” of not having a licence.

In submitting for a now-defunct suspended sentence, Mr Taminika said McNeight’s deteriorating health made him unsuitable for a termof imprisonment.

McNeight was eligible for a suspended sentence as he was charged before September 1.

In sentencing McNeight, magistrate Duncan Reynolds said unlicensed and unregistered driving was entrenched in the accused’s daily life.

“Over the years there’s been numerous instances of you driving unlicensed or disqualified and unfortunately the threat of prison hasn’t deterred you,” he said.

McNeight, who was granted appeal bail under strict reporting conditions, was also fined $1500 and had an 18-month suspension placed on his licence when he becomes eligible for it.

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