Telford Street Renewal Project - Latest Pictures
Telford Street in wick is rapidly nearing completion with work going on furiously both inside and outside the completely refurbished buildings.  The 16 houses set within one of Thomas Telford's original buildings are completely brand new.  Only the exterior walls have been retained.  A new roof in the same style and materials with all the original stonework in place and some additional features to ensure modern living standards in the properties.  With several other projects in this part of Pulteneytown coming on stream in the near future the harbour area may soon be one the most sought after areas in Caithness to live in.

Is Caithness Next As Police Catch Speeding Motorists In Greater Numbers? Will It Be You?
170 motorists were caught in one day and have been fined over £10,000 collectively on the island of Skye.  Minimum fines of £60 wand three penalty points have been added to licenses.  Heavy Goods vehicle drivers were also caught by police using the latest equipment.  Northern Constabulary caught a further 200 drivers in Lochaber over the last two weeks.  The new equipment can pick up motorists speeding at much greater distances away than in the past.  Drivers will be caught long before they see the cameras.  You have been warned - SLOW DOWN!!

Stunningly Beautiful - Potentially Deadly Scenes For NAG On Way To Meet Malcolm Chisholm
The North Action Group members who travelled to Inverness on Saturday to meet health minister Malcolm Chisholm were treated to a stunningly beautiful display of the northern Highlands in winter.  These scenes at Ardgay Station on the way south showed just how amazing the north can look in winter and how dangerous it might be if an ambulance was stuck on the three hour trip south with a pregnant woman.  North Action Group had intended to take a bus load of supporters to Inverness but cancelled this due to the unpredictable weather conditions and a smaller deputation travelled by train.  The changeable weather could not have happened at a better time to ram home to Labour politicians the dangers of weather in the winter and the potential for tragedies if health services are not maintained for outlying Highland and island communities.  A couple of days ago weather conditions resulted in cancellations of ferries and planes from Orkney due to blizzards and seas up to 22metres  - almost as bad as it can get.  On the day there was not a breathe of wind and the sunshine on the snow provided unbelievable amazing scenes that we al know can change in minutes in the far north.

North Action Group Will link Up With Stobhill Hospital Group In Glasgow Next Saturday
Representatives from the North Action Group In Caithness formed to fight the case for retaining consultant led services at Caithness General will travel to Glasgow next Saturday to attend a meeting after an invitation from a similar group fighting a similar campaign to save services at Stobhill Hospital in Glasgow.  Links are already being made with other groups such as the Belford Hospital in Fort William.  The North Action Group is leaving no stone unturned and if it means taking the campaign to a national level they are determined to do so.

Moray Firth News Programmes - Yesterdays Meeting With Health Minister Malcolm Chisholm
Early news broadcasts mentioned the meetings of health groups like North Action and the Belford with the minister yesterday and reference to the problems caused by severe weather conditions.  Tune into listen or pick up the station on the web at the link above.  Other interviews were done but we are not sure when they will be broadcast.

North Action Group Meet Health Minister Malcolm Chisholm In Inverness
Members of the North Action Group travelled to Inverness by train on Saturday 28 February after requesting a meeting with health minister Malcolm Chisholm.  The group consisting of chairman George Bruce and members Highland councillor Bill Fernie, Martin Duffy and two mothers Kerry Mackenzie and Aelex Bain met with Mr Chisholm at the Palace Hotel, Inverness.  Arriving earlier than expected for the ten minute meeting he stayed talking to the group for 45 minutes and listened to while members outlined the fears of people in the north for the safety of mothers and babies in the maternity side of the hospital but also emphasised the growing fears of many about what would happen to gynaecology patients who also required the services of consultants.

North Action Group Big Banner Creates Media Interest In Inverness
The North Action Group grabbed media attention for their case to retain consultant led maternity services in the north by displaying a huge banner created by Martin Duffy and carried to Inverness by train on Saturday.  In addition Martin and his family had prepared a small child's coffin to symbolise the possible outcome for patients in the north of Scotland and elsewhere if health services are curtailed by the removal of access to consultants at Caithness General Hospital.  The eye catching banner and small coffin were snapped by several local and national photographers representing a range of newspapers and will appear on Sunday and Monday.

Wind Turbine Parts Still Arriving At Wick
Another shipment of wind turbine parts for the Causewaymire site arrived this week and lined up on the snowy quayside ready for transportation.

Government Will Look Again At Designated Port Status - Wick May Regain Fish Landing Rights
It was announced on Friday that the government will look again at a small number of ports that lost the right to have many species of fish landed some years ago under European Quota laws.  This had a devastating effect on ports like Wick virtually wiping out trade in fishing and the ancillary industries that depended on fish for a livelihood.  Harbour Trusts such as Wick suffered a dramatic drop in revenue with consequent job losses which have continued through the community ever since.  A change to give back the right to have fish landed to some extent could make for a dramatic and welcome change of fortune for Wick which has received one blow after another in recent years up to and including Caithness Glass last week.

Winters Grip In Caithness
First Minister To Go On Moray Firth Radio -
Why Not Phone In About Maternity Services In Caithness

Jack McConnell is speaking on a phone in on Moray Firth Radio on Sunday morning at 9.30 am.  To get contact details or listen in just go to Moray Firth Radio  The North Action Group members will also be poised to phone in but the more that try the better the chance of getting through to the First Minister.

Weather For Saturday In the North Of Scotland
Snow showers dying out in morning with winds becoming light. Maximum temperature 4 deg C (39 deg F).
Outlook for Sunday
Cloudy with rain or snow at first, easing later.

Thurso FC Match On Saturday Cancelled Due To Severe Weather Conditions
Thurso F.C's league match at home to Bonar Bridge scheduled for tomorrow at 3.00pm has been called off for the safety of the travelling team and the recent severe weather conditions in the county of Caithness plus the state of Sir George's Park pitch.  Next game is scheduled for next Saturday the 6th March which is the big Caithness Derby away to Halkirk United in The Morris Newton Cup Second Round with a 2.30pm kick off.

Highland Council and HIE Move To Support Local Communities On threats To Health Services
Major Impact Study On Withdrawal Of Health Services
Highland By Highland Council and HIE Mean Business As They Prepare To Commit £80,000
The serious nature of the possible changes to health services in Highland particularly in Caithness General Hospital, Wick and the Belford Hospital, Fort William have been recognised  by the Highland Council and Highlands and Islands Enterprise.  Highland Councillors will be asked to ratify the proposal to carry out this major Impact assessment at their meeting on Thursday 4 March in Inverness

North Action Group Features On BBC Radio Scotland News  - Click Highland And Islands News On BBC site - Requires Real Player
Bill Fernie representing the North Action Group moving rapidly to increase the profile of the Caithness General Hospital and the problems being faced in the north of Scotland and elsewhere in Highland - featured in a short  interview outlining why they were travelling to Inverness to see Health minister Malcolm Chisholm in Inverness on Saturday as the Labour Party conference reaches its final day

North Action Group Sees Local Funds Begin To Rise As Caithness Folk Mobilise Support
Offers of cash have begun to come in from local people and groups to support the activities of the newly formed North Action Group in the fight to save consultant led maternity services in at Caithness General.  A major contribution has been offered by Wick Thistle football club and will be presented to the group next week.  North Action Group have already undertaken a variety of work including a big letter writing campaign to local businesses and staff.  this will be followed by letters to many others including politicians.  Local people have already offered secretarial and computer help with the action.

North Action Group Delegation To Meet Health Minister Malcolm Chisholm On Saturday
With cancellation of the protestors Battle Bus due to weather conditions forecast in the north of Scotland it was thought that there would be no representation in Inverness.  However it was decided to send a smaller group to meet Malcolm Chisholm at the Palace Hotel, Inverness at Noon.   Media interest in the meeting has been rising all day as word leaked out into the press of the meeting.  Television, radio and press are expected to meet the group at the hotel for interviews.

Surprise Protest From Caithness To Take Place At Eden Court, Inverness On Saturday
Despite the cancellation pf the Battle Bus protest a small group of protesters will now turn up at Eden Court to lobby the Labour Party Conference.  A huge sign has been manufactured naming Caithness and Sutherland being in danger.  The sign approx 10 feet high by ten feet wide carries references to King Herod and the deaths of babies at his order.  The message is clear and it is hoped the sign will be picked up by TV and newspapers present at the conference

Big Crane Arrives For North Pier Protection Work At Wick Harbour
Another large crane has arrive at Wick Harbour ready to begin work on the £2.9 million works to protect and repair the North Pier.  the contract awarded to Currie Brothers of Orkney will take up to 36 weeks to complete.  Fabrication of large sections will be undertaken in Orkney and sent over to be lifted into place by the crane.  6500 tonnes of rock will be delivered over the next few months to be dropped into place to add further stability and protection to the pier which has been showing signs of collapse in recent years.  

Maternity Downgrading Threat Rammed Home As
North Action Group Cancel Battle Bus Trip Due To Severe Weather Conditions

As if to ram home the point about weather and distance in the Highlands the current severe weather has meant the group who were to send a bus full of protesters to Inverness on Saturday 28 February to lobby the Labour Party conference has been cancelled.  A smaller group will go by train as a meeting of ten minutes has been granted by Malcolm Chisholm the Health Minister.  The smaller delegation will making all the points regarding distance, weather and economic impact on Caithness if there is a downgrading of maternity services at Caithness General Hospital.  If anyone else wants to make points to MSP's or ministers especially Labour then you can send emails any time.   North Action Group does not want deaths of mothers or babies to make this point any louder.

Blizzards, Heavy Snow & Widespread Icy Roads
Affecting Highland, Orkney Islands & Shetland Islands
Heavy snow showers will continue through the rest of tonight and Friday across Aberdeen Aberdeenshire Highland Moray and the Northern Isles, and over the Scottish Borders for a time during rush hour and early Friday morning. Strong northerly winds with gusts 55 mph are expected over the Northern Isles and 45 mph over Northeast Scotland. Resulting temporary blizzards and existing icy roads will continue to make driving dangerous. Issued by Met Office. Valid from: Friday 27 February, 2004 at 03:00
Expires on: Friday 27 February, 2004 at 18:00

Schools Closed Again Today In Caithness
Many schools in Caithness are again closed due to weather conditions.  Snow has fallen overnight and more expected.  South School, Wick has cancelled its MAASK open day which was to have been held this afternoon.

Caithness Car Club - Track day 21st March 2004
A pre-season track-day will be held at Littleferry, Golspie on Sunday 21st March at the cost of £35 per driver payable on the day.  A Scrutineer will be available, allowing all drivers an opportunity to check that their cars comply with the championship regulations for the start of the 2004 season, and also to make sure that their MSA log books are in order where they are needed. This is particularly important for drivers of Modified Production cars, as the MSA regulations have changed for the 2004 season.  Spectators Entrance £2 

Temporary Traffic Lights At Scalesburn Today
Slight traffic hold ups today at Scalesburn in Wick as Scottish Water were replacing a water pipe that was over 70 years old after a recent burst.  When a very old pipe burst Scottish Water replaces the whole section in one go to save repeat visits to the area in case the pipe bursts in other places.

Highland Councillors this week visited one of only four Home Zone projects in Scotland to check on the progress of the £250,000 community safety scheme.  Councillor Charlie King, Chairman of the Transport, Environmental and Community Services Committee, joined members of the Caithness Area Committee in looking at the project at Ormlie, Thurso.   The Council has contributed £150,000 towards the innovative project, which will see a range of traffic calming, road realignment and pedestrian friendly measures as well as new street lighting and environmental features introduced on Marr Terrace, Ironside Place, Provost Sinclair Road and Lord Thurso Court.

SNP MSP for the Highlands and Islands Rob Gibson has reacted angrily to news that Wick fishermen won't be able to land haddock in their home port.  Instead they will have to travel to Scrabster or to Morayshire, while foreign boats will be free to land their catch at Wick...

The Dunnet Bay Visitor Centre turned into a busy workshop for eager bird box builders last Sunday when over 20 volunteers turned up to 'Build a Bird Box Day'.  The event was organised by Rangers in The Highland Council's Planning and Development Service in response to the Local Biodiversity Action Plan which highlighted a need for specialised bird boxes. Instead of the more common tit and robin type nest boxes, the volunteers tried their hand at building tree creeper and communal house sparrow boxes. The tree creeper boxes will be erected in broadleaf woodlands such as Dunbeath and Achvarasdal and the communal house sparrow boxes in towns through out the county.

Broadband Date For Wick announced  - 30 June

Kosovan Airport Staff Receive Training at Inverness
A group of eight airport staff from Kosovo are receiving two weeks of training at Inverness Airport as part of an international aerodrome operations programme.  Highlands and Islands Airports Limited is delivering a two-week training programme to the operational staff from Pristina Airport on behalf of the Civil Aviation Authority International.  Members if the Kosovan group have already carried out training in England and are now gaining an insight into all aspects of airport operations north of the border.

Crossroads Raffle Draw Cancelled Due To Weather
Decision  taken at 9am this morning to cancel the Crossroads Raffle Draw in the Weigh Inn tonight due to inclement weather.  The draw will take place on Saturday and winners notified as soon as possible after that.

Many Schools Closed in Caithness And Sutherland Again Today
Snow conditions particularly in Caithness and Sutherland closed many schools once again.  Wick High closed at Noon.

A major project to reduce the risk of flooding and damage to Wick Harbour and lower Wick is under way at a cost of £2.9 million.  The Highland Council has awarded a contract to Orkney-based Currie Brothers to reinforce the North River Pier and protect the harbour and river from easterly gales combined with high tides, which create damaging waves within the harbour and river and can undermine the seawalls and properties adjacent to the harbour. Thurso consultants, Arch Henderson, have designed and are supervising the 28-week contract, which should be completed by the autumn.

Blizzards, Drifting Snow & Heavy Snow - Wednesday Night Until Thursday 6.00am
Affecting Eilean Siar, Highland, Orkney Islands & Shetland Islands
Heavy snow showers are expected to affect Northern Scotland, including the Outer Hebrides, Orkney and Shetland overnight, and will be accompanied by gale force northerly winds. Snow will drift in those strong winds with temporary blizzard conditions expected at times. Road conditions are expected to be dangerous. Issued by Met Office. Valid from: Wednesday 25 February, 2004 at 20:43 Expires on: Thursday 26 February, 2004 at 06:00

SNP MSP for the Highlands and Islands Rob Gibson has added his support for Stewart Maxwell's motion to resist the privatisation of the Meat Inspection Service.  The service is under threat of privatisation from the European Union.  Will privatisation of the Meat Hygene Service lower standards in abattoirs and lead to another crisis of confidence hitting farmers once again.  Have your say on the message board.

PFR Sodium Tanks Reach End Of Their Working Life
With the ease of a child, breaking off pieces of chocolate from a hollow easter egg, the oxy-acetylene cutter cuts up one of the giant PFR sodium tanks into manageable pieces.  There are ten of these tanks, each with a capacity of 143 tonnes fixed to plinths on the horizontal, within the sodium tank-farm.

The number of consumer debt cases dealt with by The Highland Council's Money Advice Service in the first six weeks of this year has risen by 57% over the same period last year. So far in 2004, the Money Advice Service has received 130 new contacts, 100 of whom have multiple debts.  Excessive use of credit cards over the Christmas period is blamed for the festive hangover across the country.  Consumers are being advised not to compound their problems by borrowing more money to repay debts. Instead they are being encouraged to seek free, impartial help and advice locally throughout the Highland area from the Money Advice Service or from voluntary sector agencies.

Most Caithness Schools Closed Due To Snow
the snow caused most schools to close today due to the snow conditions in the early morning.  A couple of schools had no electricity and school transport was cancelled due to the bad road conditions.

Wanted Demonstrators To Go To Inverness On Saturday - Maternity Protest By N.A.G.
28 February
A bus taking up to 48 people will leave from Thurso and head for Inverness via Wick to demonstrate in Inverness to draw attention to the possible consequences of downgrading at Caithness General Hospital.  The newly formed North Action Group is organising this day of action in Inverness.  there will be time for shopping etc.  the new group are also already embarked on  major letter writing campaign to local businesses and medial staff in Caithness.  See inside on how to book a place on the bus to Inverness 

Brian Mackay Reports On Saturdays' Win For Thurso FC
On Saturday afternoon Thurso F.C won their sixth trophy since formation in 1998 after defeating Balintore in The PCT Cup Final 1-0 at Dudgeon Park in Brora.   The only goal of the game was scored by former Brora Rangers forward Lee MacDougall with approx. 15 minutes to go.  It was a deserved win for Thurso as agreed by the opposition in the social club afterwards.   I am sure everyone will agree this is a fine achievement by a club just only five years old.

Capricorn Lifting Creels In A Force 4 Gale
Capricorn collecting creels off John O'Groats Harbour at 1.00pm on  Sunday 22nd Feb.

POLICE in Wick are trying to piece together the final movements of 51-year-old James Ross whose body was discovered in Broadhaven, Wick at the weekend.  The Impala Guest House proprietor's body was found by a passer-by on the coastline below the North Head War Memorial at noon on Sunday February 22.   Mr Ross was last seen at leaving the Hillhead Mace shop and walking alone towards Willowbank at around 1800 on Saturday, February 21.  Anyone who may have come into contact with Mr Ross after that is asked to contact Police.  If anyone has any information regarding the final movements of this man they are asked to contact Wick Area Command on 01955 603551.

Thurso Beach In The Sunshiine
John Farquhar took this picture a couple of days ago showing Thurso on a bright sunny day proving that even in winter there is plenty of sun about on some days.   Perhaps a few more solar panel roofs could take advantage of the clear skies and air in the far north

South School, Wick Latest Newsletter
All the latest news and what is coming up in the next few weeks and months.

Sunset Over Wind Turbines At Causewaymire
Graeme Farquahar who lives almost ten miles away from the wind Turbines at Causewaymire took this photograph of the sunset on Thursday evening.  The picture was taken from his house at Killimster  (approximately 6 miles from Wick on the Wick to Castletown road).  The sun was setting directly between the two Ben's (Ben Griam Mor & Ben Griam Beg) in North Sutherland.

Latest Dornoch Pictures

Take A Walk Along Tain High Street

More Wind Turbines Arriving At Wick On Saturday
This next shipment of turbines consisted only of the tower sections with the fins to follow in another shipment on Monday.  The change of is related to problems in using the ships cranes alongside the quay at Wick.  The move to smaller ships mean cranes on the quayside can offload the sections but this requires two boats instead of one carrying the parts.

Latest Caithness Whispers

Caithness Glass Calls In The Receivers
Deloitte Touche the accountancy firm have been called in as receivers for the well known Caithness firm of glass makers that have premises in Wick, Oban, Perth and King's Lynn.  The firm have changed hands a number of times over the years and are well known for their paper weights and their long association with the Mastermind trophies.  Up to 50 staff are employed at Wick.  A representative for Deloitte Touch interviewed on television today said they were hopeful of finding a buyer for the business which they are continuing to operate meantime.  The firm is one of the largest private employers at Wick and it would be a severe blow to the area if staff were to be made redundant in an area already suffering a high rate of unemployment.

New Support Group
Have you lost a limb, or part of a limb through accident or illness?

Chef manager, Mike Russell, from Thurso, Caithness, has been presented with an award in recognition of his work with ESS Support Services Worldwide onboard the ChevronTexaco operated Captain Wellhead Protector Platform (WPPA).  Mike Russell was presented with the Special Recognition award at the first ever ‘Be a Star’ awards ceremony and dinner dance held by the offshore division of ESS, at the Queen’s Hotel in Aberdeen. More than 130 employees and customers attended the inaugural dinner where six awards were presented to three outstanding employees and teams.

Funding Confirmed For Pulteneytown Community Warden
The Highland Council has welcomed the Scottish Executive's announcement to fund  the appointment of  community wardens in six communities in the Highlands and to develop a community mediation scheme. The total funding for the two initiatives amounts to £230,000 over two years.  The Council will be introducing community wardens in Pultneytown, Wick, parts of Alness and Invergordon, parts of Inverness, Fort William and Kinlochleven.  Community Wardens will work closely with the communities in which they are based to meet local needs. They will provide a highly visible presence in these communities, and they will be able to monitor and respond to particular issues and provide advice and information on available services and to vulnerable residents.

A Fun night out for “Women Only” - Football Come & Try Night
Wick High School Gym - Monday 23rd February 7.30pm – 8.30pm
Thurso High School Gym - Monday 1st March 7.30pm – 8.30pm
You must be over 15yrs to attend…

Crossroads Annual Raffle Draw
The draw will take place at 8pm in the Bar at the Weigh Inn in Thurso on Thursday, 26 February 2004.

Deaf Communication Project Appoints New Manager
A project to improve communication between deaf and hearing people in Highland appointed a new Manager, Jenny Liddell, on 19th January 2004, to take the project into its next development phase.  The Deaf Communication Project, which is jointly funded by the European Social Fund, Highland Council and NHS Highland, has been providing courses in sign language, lip-reading and other communication skills since 1997 and is building up a staff of experienced deaf tutors.   The new Deaf Communication Project Manager hopes to further expand the range of training on offer and to develop new services to assist people who need hearing support.   Ms Liddell is a graduate in Communications and will draw on her background in marketing, PR and fundraising to develop the project.

Dounreay  is  to recruit its 1000th engineering apprentice in the same year that the UK Atomic Energy Authority is fifty years old.  A  total  of  993  young  people from across the Highlands and Islands have joined  UKAEA's  engineering  apprenticeship  scheme  at Dounreay since the first intake in 1955.  Recruitment adverts for the next intake of seven engineering apprentices in August this year are being published in local newspapers this week.  Energy  Minister  Stephen  Timms  said:

Unemployment In The North Shows Slight Rise In CASE Latest Report
Overall, the number of people unemployed in Caithness and Sutherland rose from 839 last month to 861. The revised unemployment rates in the Sutherland, Wick and Thurso 'Travel to Work Areas' respectively are as follows: 5.0% (4.9%), 3.9% (3.8%) and 2.7% (2.6%).

‘Reconstructing the Earth’s climate by means of cosmogenic radionuclides in polar ice cores’

The ice sheets of Greenland & Antarctica constitiute a natural archive of the Earth’s climate history. Over time constituents of the atmosphere have been precipitated with snow and trapped as the snow turns to ice. Produced in the upper atmosphere by cosmic rays and transported to the Earth’s surface, cosmogenic radionuclides provide valuable information about the variability of the Sun, fluctuations of geomagnetic field strength and changes in the global carbon cycle.  The Event Is Free and A glass of wine is on offer.

Young Farmers clubs throughout the County competed in their annual District Ten Pin Bowling competition.   The District Junior Quiz was also held last week with questions provided by George Cormack and Graham Mackay. Six teams competed in the competition.  Caithness District Young Farmers also held their Singer Sewing competition, this years theme was "A new baby" which included a cross stitch sampler, bib, decorated photo frame, sewn toy and a floral arrangement.   All Results inside

Star Watch Date changed To 5 March
For those of you still trying to see the stars with the astronomer at Dunnet then the date is now 5 March.  Unfortunately weather and now other circumstances have forced the change once again.

Next Meeting Of Caithness Quilters 24 February 2004
The next meeting of the Caithness Quilters is on Tuesday the 24th February 2004 at 7.30 in the Pulteney Parish Church Hall (upstairs) Argyle Square Wick.  There will be a video and slide show.

Rod Houston, depute head teacher at Golspie High School who has had a long involvement in schools' football at a national level and is a former manager of Brora Rangers Football Club, took up a new position as development manager of the Highland Football Academy.  Rod (52) has been seconded by The Highland Council to spearhead the development of the academy and to promote its use as a Highland-wide resource. The academy involves an indoor football arena at Dingwall, which is now operational, and two grass football pitches nearby which have been laid but are not yet in use.

Golspie Station
Latest pictures

Thurso High Reunion 79 - 85
Here is the full schedule for the weekend Friday Saturday Sunday 9 - 11 April.  A few folk not yet found so here is a list of the last few if anyone knows where they are to let them know.  For those of you thinking about organising a reunion one of the organisers of this one is in the USA.  Sara Witten and fellow organisers will see you all soon.

Latest Caithness Whisper

Causeymire Wind Farm Will Be The Most Powerful Turbines In Operation In The UK
Each wind turbine consists of two tower sections, a nacelle on top of the tower housing the gearbox and generator plus three rotor blades. The components are assembled on site and each turbine is completed when the rotor blades are lifted and fitted into position using two cranes. Each single turbine will generate enough power to supply the average annual needs of nearly 1,200 homes.

Caithness Fileld Club - Summer 2004 Programme Announced
The Caithness Field Club has organised another interesting programme of outings for members and any one who is interested both locals of visitors.  The club runs very informally and concentrates on its monthly outings in summer and a few talks in Winter.  This summer walks and trips include Ballater, climbing Morven, Duke of Kent monument, Strath Brora, Botany At Dunnet, Learable Hill - Kildonan, A Wick Wander and Badryrie to see the ancient settlement and the forest regeneration project set up by the club.  So mark your calendar if any of these trips are of interest.

Ploughing Match - Lynegar Farm, Watten
North & West Caithness Ploughing Association's 15th Annual Ploughing Match at Lynegar Farm, Watten.  A new trophy, presented in memory of the late Billy Henderson, Castletown, was presented to the best junior. It went to Graeme Mackay, Buldoo. He is pictured after being presented with the trophy by two of Billy's grandchildren - Lisa Campbell and Craig Manson.


"In some communities in the Highlands more than half the houses are registered as either second homes or holiday homes".
   The Highland Council Convener Alison Magee has written again to Scottish Executive Finance and Public Services Minister Andy Kerr urging him to make a firm and public commitment to remove the 50% council tax discount on second and holiday homes and to make a speedy announcement to enable the change to be factored into the Council's 2004 - 2005 Budget.

Barn Fire At Halkirk Farm
About 11.15pm on Saturday, 14 February, 2004 a fire was discovered within a Dutch barn at Buckies Farm, Halkirk. Three units from Highlands and Islands Fire Brigade attended.  The barn and its contents were completely destroyed. As a result of the fire a 62 year old man was treated at hospital for the effects of smoke inhalation but was later released.  There are no suspicious circumstances and enquiries are continuing into the cause of the fire.

BOGUS CALLERS - LOCHABER  - Warn Your elderly Neighbours and Relatives
On Tuesday, 10th February, 2004, a male and a female called at the home of a 72 year old woman in the Fort William area and demanded a sum of money which they claimed was for non payment of goods from a catalogue company. This matter was not reported to the Police until 13th February, 2004. Police enquiry showed that a call was also received by a 29 year old woman at her home where a man again demanded money for the same reason. Neither of the complainers owes any money or are customers of the company which the man had stated that he worked for.  Descriptions inside.

Maintenance At Dunnet Lighthouse
Photographer Keith Parkes ( ) was on hand to see some of the work by steeplejack types carrying out maintenance work painting the top of the lighthouse.

Rob Gibson MSP Hits Out At Long Patient Waiting Times In Highland
SNP MSP Rob Gibson for the Highlands and Islands has reacted angrily to provisional patient waiting time figures that show that patients in the Highlands and Islands have to wait over a month more than the average to be seen.  The figures were revealed by Health Minister Malcolm Chisholm after a question by SNP MSP Linda Fabiani.  The figures for Highland shows that Outpatients/first appointments have to wait on average 72 days to be seen (the average for the region should be 43 days).  Inpatients/day cases (for Highland) have to wait 75 days (average 40 days).

First Salmon of 2004 Caught On River Thurso
The first Salmon from the Thurso River. It was caught on 14th Feb from Beat 13 by Thurso angler Steelie Smith. It was caught in the Bridge Pool on a Willie Gunn Waddington. It weighed in at 9lbs.

Causewaymire First Turbines Going Up Viewed From Several Places
As the fiRst of the Causewaymire wind turbines go up we have taken a series of photographs from various places to le you see how it looks already.  The turbines are big but set in a huge landscape they can appear much smaller.  To get an idea of just how big they are look closely at the vehicles at the bottom as these are large trucks and then imagine a man half the height of the truck - then you get the scale.  Then look at the pictures taken from well back and the wind turbines disappear.   We will be following this project as it builds in coming months as well as several others coming online over the next couple of years.  One way or another part of the Caithness landscape is about to change.

New Voluntary Centre Nearing Completion At Williamson Street, Wick
The new centre for several voluntary groups is nearing completion.  Caithness Voluntary Group has organised the complex arrangements to bring together groups under one roof.  The inside has been gutted and everything from floors to ceilings is new.  the outside walls are being put back to almost their original state.  Caithness Deaf Care has already moved in and CVG moves shortly.  Other groups will follow making this the largest centre for volunteering in the north.  The building will be called Telford House as it is on the corner of Williamson Street and Telford Street and after the famous man who designed the whole area.

Health & Beauty Fair - Thursday 26 February 7.30pm
Find out about - Swedish Massage, Reflexology, Reiki, Hypnotherapy, Acupressure, Indian Head Massage, Hair & Beauty Tips and products and more.  Admission £4 (includes a glass of wine)  In aid of the Caithness Gaelic choir. Tickets from members or at the door

East End Boys Club - Caithness County Football Festival
Get training boys and girls and get ready for this competition aimed at teams in all ages under 16.  How long have you got?.  Well it all happens over two days on 29th and 30th May.  All the clubs in the county will be invited to participate in what may become an annual event.

Another Scam
Currently there is yet another scam around, asking people to FAX website pages to a 0871 number. This will cost you so please do ignore. Be aware of any "business" communication which does not have an email address and requests for faxed information.  Why not place your fax number on the fax preference listing if you do not want to receive marketing material.  If you register with this service it is illegal to send you unwanted material by fax.  Check the Fax Preference Service Web Siite.  It is not totally effective as many people who register find unwanted faxes keep coming in but it might cut them down.

Watch Our Wildlife
A new leaflet from the rangers for Caithness & Sutherland.  It is available in paper form from the rangers and locally.  The leaflet splits Sutherland into four and deals with Caithness as a single unit.

Dounreay Retirement Fellowship
Some eighty members of the Dounreay Retirement Fellowship recently visited Dounreay. For many, it was a first-time return since they retired, some as long as twenty years ago. Sandy McWhirter, Dounreay Programme Manager, gave a presentation on the work required to complete the decommissioning of the site. “I can appreciate if many of you see the current workforce as destroying what you created. I see it slightly differently in that you were set a critical task by the government of the day

Is A New London Caithness Association About To Rise?
The London Caithness Association ceased to exist last year  - the longest running Scottish county association outlasting all the others from the nineteenth century.  Just to prove you cannot keep that Caithness spirit down some folk are already thinking about a new group.  If you are interested in contributing ideas or joining such a group in London and the south east or even if you arrive in London from time to time and are interested in getting together then take a look. 

Public Meeting Forms A New Action Team To Defend Maternity Services In Caithness
Over 100 people turned out on Wednesday night to form a new Action Committee to defend consultant led maternity services in Caithness.  Amongst many suggestions it was acknowledged that the fight might extend to more than just maternity as much more might be under threat if the maternity fight was to be lost.

James Ross  - Local Traditional Scottish Pianist In Wick
Saturday 14 February 2.30pm  - Scotia Review  Ebenezer's Bar, Mackays Hotel - Admission FREE
Also appearing Shetland Poet and novelist Robert Alan Jamieson and supporting performers

Boys Brigade Wick - Photo Archive
Wick Boys Brigade Captain Marc MacDonald is building a photo archive and would like to get help from anyone who can identify people in the photographs we will be posting in this new section.  In this first batch are a couple of really early photographs including the first one ever taken of the BB's in Wick in 1887

Thurso FC Hope To Storm Past Alness
Following on from Thurso's 8-0 win last Saturday at a wintry Invergordon, in their quest to retain the title they won last season, Thurso F.C hope to leapfrog Alness United in The MSIS North Caledonian League Championship table with a win at the third attempt against Alness United away, twice called off due to bad weather in recent weeks. Also on the day when the championship takes an interesting twist, first plays second as Balintore play hosts to Golspie Sutherland at Seaboard Park.

Thurso Scottish Country Dance Club- Annual Dance
There used to be a thriving Scottish Country Dance Club in Wick. Are there any former members or other lapsed dancers out there? If so, the Thurso Scottish Country Dance Club would like to hear from you. The Thurso club are holding their annual dance in April and would be delighted to welcome dancers from the east of the county. Rehearsals for the dances are about to start on Wednesdays evenings. Why not contact Alan Wilcock on 01847-821341 for more information?

In the best traditions of the Hollywood blockbusters it has brought to communities throughout the Highlands and Islands, the pioneering Screen Machine mobile cinema is to have a sequel.  A grant of £428,000 from the Scottish Arts Council's (SAC) National Lottery Fund, along with £150,000 from Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) and funding from Scottish Gas, Scottish Rural Challenge Fund and Volvo has enabled owners and operators HI-Arts to order a new vehicle. Building on the experience of five years on the road with the prototype, Screen Machine 2 will bring a true cinema experience to more film fans across the Highlands and Islands.

Star Watch - Rescheduled  - Friday 13th February  7pm.
Meet Dunnet bay car park (north)  Following last weeks cancellation of the event organised by the Ranger service it will now run this Friday evening.  A chance to have a close up look at the moon and stars with the help of a local astronomer and his telescope.  Charge £1.00 per adult to cover costs.   Wrap up well and bring flask.  Further information 01847 821531

Stir Those Stumps  - Guided Walk - Beinn Freiceadain Returning Loch Shurrery
Sunday 15th February  10.00am - Meet Halkirk . by grocers shop to pool cars.   This walk involves rough ground and a climb up to 238 m Boots and waterproofs required.  Bring packed lunch.  Walk is weather dependent Further information 01847821531

Final Few turbine Parts Of First Shipment For Causewaymire Prepare To Be Shipped From Wick
The last of the wind turbine parts bound for the Causewaymire were being made ready for shipment by road from Wick Harbour late this afternoon.  If you have not worked out how big these parts are then compare the height of the men working beside them.

League Of Friends Keeps Maternity Issue To Forefront With Wednesday Night Meeting In Wick
Wednesday 11 February  - 7.30pm Main Hall, Assembly Rooms Wick
The ladies in the League of Friends of Caithness General hope to take their campaign to retain consultant led maternity services in Caithness to a new level by holding another public meeting to form an action committee from a variety of organisations and individuals.  they hope that as many people as possible will come along and add their suggestions to the list.  The ladies feel that the issue is one facing the whole community and as such needs the involvement of as many people as possible.  No one needs to join the new group but everyone can suggest their ideas to promote the campaign.  The new group will assess the ideas and take as many of them forward as possible.   One suggestion for another large demonstration on Mothers Day will be put to the meeting.  But they would like many more suggestions.

New Contract Sees Fisheries Flights Move to Inverness
The Scottish Fisheries Protection Agency is set to relocate its reconnaissance aircraft from Prestwick to Inverness Airport following a contract award with Highland Airways.  The Agency has signed a five-year deal with the regional air operator to maintain and crew its two Cessna F406 reconnaissance aircraft, which will operate out of Inverness. The contract will commence on 1st April 2004.  The aircraft will be based in Inverness and carry out patrols over Scottish waters. The contract will see Highland Airways employ 12 new members of staff.

Caithness Planning Committee Give Go Ahead For Anemometer Mast At Sandside
Application for the new mast was granted at the meeting of the Caithness Europe Planning and Development committee on Monday.  the 50 meter mast was granted planning permission for two years and will be sited 4kilmeters south and east of the A836.  Objections were received from Caithness West Community Council and the RSPB.  An objection from Scottish Natural Heritage was removed by them when the applicants supplied a survey of natural heritage interests. Arguments about Wind Farms were rejected as the application was not for a wind farm. Not all masts lead ultimately to an application for one.

Scottish Socialist Party To Demonstrate Against Council Tax On Thursday In Inverness
The SSP is opposed to the Council Tax and would abolish it in favour of a Service Tax.  Steve Arnott the Highland organiser will lead a demonstration at Highland Council offices on Thursday.  SSP branches around Scotland are organising similar demonstrations at other Scottish Council offices as they meet to agree what the SSP call "Inflation Busting Increases".  They will hold a national demo in Glasgow in April.

Highland Moray & Argyll Shortage Of Supply Teachers
Bruce Robertson the Highland director of Education says the problem is a national one.  Teachers not qualified in certain subjects are often having to be used to cover classes especially in certain subjects like maths, and science.

New Bridge At Loch More Opens Circular Route For Riders and Walkers
Ali Sangster Fiona Sinclair and David More enjoy a circular route ride at Loch More. with the help of David Barclay who funded the cover through Highland Access Panel (HAP). the group are now able to have one of the first circular routes for horses in Caithness. the route is almost 20 miles and takes in some breathtaking countryside.   For anyone wanting to contact the group in the first instance get in touch with the secretary Janine

Scottish Voluntary Groups Share In £2.4 million For Rent Deposit Schemes
New services, to help people who find it difficult to scrape together the initial deposit to rent a home, will be running across Scotland by the end of the year.  Funding for a new development worker to drive forward work on improving access to private rented accommodation was announced as part of a £2.4 million funding package for the voluntary sector.  Rent deposit or guarantee schemes support people who do not have enough money saved to pay the deposit for a private rented house or flat.

New Consultant for SAC's Thurso Office
New Farm Business Consultant, John Morgan joined the staff of Scottish Agricultural College's Thurso Office in January. Together with Bob Tosh, he will provide technical and business advice to farmers and crofters in the area.  John, who is the son of a Denbighshire sheep and beef farmer, graduated recently from the University of Wales where he gained an honours degree in agriculture. In 2003 he was a finalist in ADAS Pinnacle 'Awards of Excellence' in Business Management

A rise of £50 at Band D, a 5.1% increase (£1,039), is being recommended for approval when The Highland Council meets on Thursday to set the Council Tax for 2004-2005.  This follows the decisions taken last week when the Council agreed a budget of £438.4 million, which shows a net increase in spending of almost £22 million. The Council will also be asked to confirm that council house rent increases be contained to the Retail Price Index plus 1% i.e. 3.5%. This will result in the average rent increase in 2004-2005 being £1.74 per week.

Rob Gibson SNP MSP for Highlands and Islands has called on the Scottish Executive to review the game laws. This follows EU legal action against the UK for failing to ensure sufficient protection for black grouse, ptarmigan, red grouse and partridge.

Well Known Comedian Colin Campbell In Caithness Whispers
Many folk can recall some of the sketches bringing to life such characters as Johnnie Polson in his long running series of tapes of Radio Caithness still hugely popular and selling well.

The Highland Council, in partnership with Inverness City Centre Management Team and Northern Constabulary, is launching an anti-litter campaign in an effort to reduce the amount of litter and fly tipping incidents in the Inverness area. The drive began this week when the Council's Community Works staff, working in partnership with police officers, commenced high profile patrols of the city centre.  The object of the patrols is to give warnings, and, where necessary, issue £50 fixed penalty notices to individuals who throw down, drop or otherwise deposit litter.

New Duo Plays Bower Inn On Saturday
Sat 14th Feb at the Bower Inn, Bower sees a new duo to Caithness called Dyce, with Annie B on vocals, Geoff on guitar and Horace & Boris, programmed drums and bass.   They play a mixture of modern covers and some original material.

Caithness West Community Council Tours Dounreay And Picks Up Donated Computer
Six members of Caithness West Community Council recently visited Dounreay.  They toured the site and saw at first hand the work being carried out to decommission the Prototype Fast Reactor.  UKAEA Dounreay have donated a PC to the community council.  Norman Harrison, Dounreay Director is pictured here (left) presenting it to Sandra Gordon, Secretary of Caithness West Community Council (2nd Left) with the other members of the community council.

Train To Work In Tourism And Hospitality
Following on from the success of a pilot programme last year, people in Caithness and Sutherland considering working in the tourism and hospitality industry are once again to be given an opportunity to acquire the essential skills required to gain employment in that sector.  A limited number of places are available on two separate pre-season training courses, which are to be funded by Caithness and Sutherland Enterprise (CASE), to be delivered at venues in Wick and Dornoch. The courses will run from 1st March – 19th March in Dornoch and 8th March – 26th March in Wick, and will be approximately 30 hours per week.

Energy Awareness Seminar
Friday 13 February 2004 - Mackay's Hotel, Union Street, Wick - 11.00-1.00 pm hosted by Maureen Macmillan MSP in conjunction with EAGA Partnership.  The event is open to the public and their will be speakers from Eaga Partnership giving information on the Executive Central Heating Programme and Warm Deal Grant. Shirley Lamont from The Pension Service who will give details on Pension Credit and finally Kevin Tait from Care and Repair, Caithness. The seminar is free and open to the public.

You Can Have What's On Updating Events Added To Your Web Site - FREE
Just add a little bit of code to a page on your site,

About 7:20 pm on Sunday 8th February 2004, Highlands and Islands Fire Brigade notified Police of a house fire at 84 Willowbank, Wick.On arrival of the services, the male occupier was found outside the premises having left the dwelling on hearing the smoke detector sound. He was conveyed to Caithness General Hospital and treated for smoke inhalation and later released. The fire occurred in the kitchen of the dwelling which was destroyed as a result. Extensive smoke damage was also caused to the house. There are no suspicious circumstances.

Melvich Gaelic Choir  New Web Site
If you want to see how the gaelic choir at Melvich are doing then book mark this site.  And we wonder if someone has switched a tap on as new web sites seem to be pouring out of the north of Scotland.  Keep them coming folks

Did You Know Dornoch Has A Small Museum Called History Links
Tucked away in the street behind the Jailhouse and Castle is this small museum open from around the end of April till September each year.

Caithness And Sutherland Car Owners Club - New Web Site

Still In East Sutherland

East Sutherland On Sunnier Days

Gymnastics and Hockey Courses Information
Local Sports Officer Tina Robinson is the person to contact if you are interested in these courses.  For anyone interested in coaching other sports it is always worth contacting Tina to find out if courses in your sport are available.

League Of Friends Of Caithness General Public Meeting On Maternity Services
Wednesday 11 February 7.30pm Assembly Rooms, Wick -
A What Next Meeting?
The League Of Friends now sees the way forward as uniting everyone in the county who want to retain the level of Maternity services at Caithness General Hospital.  They will be looking for as many suggestions as possible to give to a new Action Team to take them forward. The main hall has been booked to ensure that people from all over the county can get in.

Royal British Legion Scotland Thurso Branch Launch New Web Site
RBLS Thurso have launched a new web site to provide information and news about the club activities.  the site will have pictures and a calendar of coming events and entertainment.

Public Meeting Looked At Possible Action On Maternity Threat
Around 70 people attended a public meeting organised by the Scottish Socialist Party to try to get ideas and agreement as to how action might be taken to carry forward a campaign to maintain consultant led services in Caithness. MSP Jamie Stone billed as a speaker at the meeting did not make it possibly due to bad weather. However SSP MSP Carolyn Leckie and councillor Bill Fernie spoke to the audience. Ms Leckie outlined her views of the current situation. In the morning she had visited the Maternity Unit at Caithness General and had been impressed by the levels of skills and services available at the unit. A qualified midwife herself it was immediately evident from her speech that she had a very detailed grasp of the serious situation that the people in rural areas find themselves faced with a reduction in maternity services.  The league Of Friends public meeting will take place on Wednesday 11 February at 7.30pm in the Assembly Rooms, Wick.

Reay & District Gardening Club - 2004 Programme
The Reay Gardening Club is already into the 2004 programme of club meetings.  if you are interested in the topic take a look at this years programme and pop along.

Cruiteran String Quartet In Thurso
Friday 20 February 2004 8pm - Place St. Anne's RC Church, Sweyn Road, Thurso - Admission Tickets £7 adults, £4 Concessions, including wine and savouries at interval.  Tickets from Bews Bookshop, Thurso; The Music Shop, Thurso; tickets also available on the night.  Cruiteran String Quartet are a group of professional musicians based in the Highlands and will feature special guest Karen Anderson on clarinet. The programme includes Mozart Clarinet Quintet, Brahms Clarinet Quintet, and Dvorak "American" String Quartet.  (This programme is to be repeated on Friday 12th March at Dornoch Cathedral).

Salsa/Latin Dance Classes In Wick
One of the fastest growing hobbies in the UK to have fun and keep fit starts in the Waterfront, Wick on Thursday 12 February at 8.00pm.  A chance to try something from the start as the classes are aimed at beginners and are for adults only.

Barrock Closing In On Broadband Trigger Figure
Caithness internet users have got the bit between their teeth now with Thurso up and running and Wick and Castletown already achieving the targets set by BT.  Now Barrock is coming up fast and currently stands at 73 and heading for the magic 100 set for that area.  With only 17 more people required to register it should be possible in the very near future.  So any Barrock are folk who have not yet registered do it now and you could help your area get Broadband connected sooner.

The Highland Council is eager to meet recycling targets set by the Scottish Executive but says that funding must be made available to enable this to happen.  In the Strategic Waste Plan for the Highlands, approved by the Executive, it is estimated that an additional funding of £29 million is needed over the next two financial years to improve recycling and composting to 25% and almost £300 million to meet the 2020 target of 44%.

COUNCIL BUDGET RECOMMENDS 7.1% GROWTH  - Band D £1039  Likely For 2004 - 05
The Highland Council agreed at a special meeting on Thursday (5 February) to set a budget of £438.4 million for 2004-2005 - which includes budget growth of £29.7 million or 7.1 %.  The proposed budget should permit the Council to restrict an increase in the Council Tax to £50 at Band D when it meets again on Thursday 12 February to set the Council Tax for the new financial year. The current Band D is £989. 

At about 0343 hrs on Thursday, 5 February, 2004 a report was received of bushes on fire in Thurso Road, Wick. On attendance by the Police it was discovered what appeared to be a gas leak burning through the garden wall of a house. Fire Brigade attended and assisted in the evacuation of occupants from approximately 20 houses in the vicinity. They were thereafter accommodated at Wick Police Station. Transco attended and capped the gas supply and the remaining fire, which had affected some bushes, was extinguished by the Fire Brigade. At 0510 hours the evacuated occupants were allowed to return to their homes.  The fire appears to have started when the electricity supply was restored after an earlier power failure within the town. The electric and gas mains run side by side at that location. The gas and electric supplies have been isolated until final repairs are carried out.

Turbines Going Up At Causewaymire
No time is being wasted to get the newly arrived wind turbines up at the Causewaymire site.
Even as more convoys were moving parts down the road from Wick others were being erected on the site.  Wind turbine dimensions: Hub height 60 meters - Blade length 40 m   The site will have 24 turbine, 48 Megawatt (MW) Causeymire Wind Farm at Dale Moss, some 30km south west of John O'Groats.  It will generate enough clean electricity to meet the average needs of approximately 25,000 homes every year or, put another way, enough to meet the annual domestic electricity needs of Caithness twice over. The wind farm will also prevent the release of about 85,000 tonnes of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide which is the main contributor to global warming and climate change.

MSP To Visit Threatened Maternity Unit
Scottish Socialist MSP Carolyn Leckie is visiting the threatened maternity unit at Caithness General Hospital on Saturday morning. As part of a fact-finding visit she will talk with patients and staff before speaking at a Public Meeting in Wick Assembly Rooms at 2pm that afternoon. Ms Leckie, a qualified midwife and one of 6 Socialist MSPs elected last May, is active in campaigns against maternity cuts in the Central Belt and is concerned at the impending cuts in rural services. Also among the speakers at the meeting is local MSP Jamie Stone.  The Trades Council and Highland Council will also be represented.

Blood Donor Session In Brora Now on 18 February
Our blood donor session in Brora has now been changed to Wednesday 18th February 2004 (cancelled on Thursday 12th Feb). Next session in Caithness is Tuesday 17th February 2004 THURSO, Dounreay Sports & Social Club, Duncan St 2.00pm – 4.00pm & 5.00pm – 8.00pm

Star Watch At Dunnet
Friday 7.00pm - Organised By The Ranger Service

A local astrologer will show us the moon and stars using his special telescope. Meet Dunnet Bay car park. Wear Warm clothing and take a flask.  If the weather is bad then the Star Watch will take lace the following Friday.

Thurso FC First League Game for Five Weeks - Weather Permitting
Thurso F.C hope to play their first league game since 20th of December 2003 on Saturday after many call offs due to the recent bad weather, when they travel south to Ross-shire to play Invergordon at Recreation Park (2 p.m kick-off). This match is the first in a series of three away games as Thurso play Alness away on the 14th February then meet Balintore at Dudgeon Park, Brora in The PCT Cup Final on Saturday the 21st of February 2004. The next three weeks will shape the way Thurso's season goes as they hope to emulate the treble winning season last year.

Police Want Information On Wick Robbery
At 2200 hours on 3 February 2004 at the Elm Tree Filling Station, Wick an incident occurred whereby an employee at the filling station was threatened by two youths carrying knives. This incident took place when the employee was leaving his work, he was approached by two youths who threatened him with knives and demanded his money. The youths made off having taken ten pounds.  Police are appealing for witnesses who were in the area at the time and particularly anyone who may have seen persons in or around the Elm Tree Filling Station or the grounds of the old Pentland Auto building.
Police can be contacted at Wick on 01955 603551 or on Crime Stoppers on 0800 555 111.

Turbines On The Way To Causewaymire

Wind Turbine Unloading Today

Waterproof Writing System For Marine Activities - Produced In Thrumster
A new innovative business has started in Thrumster, with help from Caithness and Sutherland Enterprise (CASE). Jo Bartlett - who moved with her husband Paul to the area from Leicester last year - has taken the family's passion for sailing and identified a gap in the market for waterproof data recording equipment.  Operating as MICS Ltd  , Jo and Paul have invented a waterproof system to allow fellow sailors to take and record vital information on the water.

Wind Turbines Still Unloading On Tuesday

New Caithness Mental Health Web Site To Be Set Up - Would You Like To Help Build It?
Rae Smith as Lead for the Social inclusion group was very active in collecting information from voluntary groups to add to a Caithness Mental Health Website. Working together with the Highland Council and Highland Primary Care trust the Caithness Mental Health Support Group have been successful in obtaining a grant to develop this website!

Looking At The Flour Mill, Birds Of Prey and Golf In The Sutherland Collection

Highland Council recently pledged its continued support to Highland Opportunity Limited when members of the Council's Planning, Development, Europe and Tourism Committee agreed to continue to support the company with funding of £115,000 throughout the coming financial year.  Council members heard of the wide ranging activities and achievements of Highland Opportunity Ltd. (HOL) which is the enterprise trust for the Highlands providing discretionary financial assistance, professional business support, youth enterprise services and European consultancy to small and medium-sized enterprises. 

Clyth Crofters Ball - Saturday 8 February 8.00pm
A great night looks to be on offer this year at Clyth with a dance and three course meal for only £10. This annual fund raiser for the Clyth Hall should see a good crowd from all over the county.  Music will be supplied by Remix.  For tickets contact Helen Budge on 01593 721467.  A bus will be laid on from Wick if there is enough demand.

Caithness Business Club Pulls Castletown Up To The Trigger For Broadband
Following Wick reaching its trigger figure the Caithness Business Club who were to have campaigned in Wick on Saturday moved their effort to Castletown and obtained over 120 sign-ups to take the town past the trigger figure.  Next weekend members will arrive in Halkirk to try to achieve similar success for that area.

Trading Standards Officers of The Highland Council are warning the public to beware of being enticed into money-making trading schemes when surfing the Internet.  Recent investigations have shown that at least one such scheme is being advertised on the Internet from the Inverness area.  The schemes are available via Internet search engines and auction rooms and may not necessarily disclose the true identity of the persons behind them.

Transport Minister Nicol Stephen today said work on the first phase of a major £12 million upgrade of the A9 from Helmsdale to Ord of Caithness is expected to begin in late spring, subject to statutory procedures being completed.  Mr Stephen said the upgrade would improve access and would be completed in two phases, with the first section from Allt Briste North to North of Ord of Caithness to start soon.   The Minister today visited Helmsdale with local MSP Jamie Stone and local MP John Thurso to look at the upgrade route and to examine calls for a footway link on the A9.

Wind Turbines For Causeymire Unloading At Wick
The first of several shipments of wind turbines arrived at Wick harbour today.  The ship was met by a convoy of big transporters ready to move the loads to the wind farm site at the Causeymire.  This development will be the largest so far to be built in Caithness but with several other developments underway and at various stages of planning there can be little doubt that alternative energy is going to have an impact on Caithness.

JAMIE STONE MSP and CAROLYN LECKIE MSP United On Maternity Issue  - Public Meeting
Saturday 7th February, 2.00pm in Wick Assembly Rooms. Carolyn Leckie is an SSP MSP and is a qualified mid-wife and spokes person on health matters. The public are invited to hear speakers and make contributions.  The meeting may also become the focus for forming the action group suggested by the League of Friends of Caithness General which was to have happened at last week's meeting cancelled due to the adverse weather.

Altnabreac  - Near The Caithness Sutherland Boundary
Altnabreac with its forest roads and tracks is one of the more remote parts of Caithness.  Very few people live in the area apart from those who work on local estates.  There are no shops or petrol stations so make sure you fill up before setting out on a trip to see the lochs, forests and wildlife.

Altnabreac Station

Burst Water Main In Wick
Water supplies were stopped for a short time early on Sunday morning on the south side of Wick. Teams from Scottish Water managed to reconnect supplies from the main and worked for the rest of the day on repairing the break. Water leaked into the foundations of one house.

More Winter Scenes As Thaw Begins
Thermometers remained low in Caithness last night but the thaw definitely set in and sunshine in the afternoon should see much of the snow disappear.  From minus 2C the temperature climbed to 2C at Wick.

First Wind Turbines For Causeymire Arrives At Sinclair Bay
This is the first shipment of turbines bound for the Causeymire wind farm site. The ship was spotted in Sinclair Bay at Ackergill today waiting till Monday to move round to Wick harbour. The shipments will be transferred to lorries from the haulage company of Edward Mackay. From there they will travel through Wick and down the south road - A99. Eight loads in total will be involved arriving every 10 days.

Two pupils from Caithness were presented with £200 worth of stationery for their schools and a DVD player for themselves after featuring in the prize list of an art competition to design the cover of The Highland Council's 2004 Lyreco catalogue for office supplies. Stephanie Webster (7), Wick North Primary, won the Primary 1-4 category and Liam Larnach (11), Pulteneytown Primary, Wick, the category for special needs pupils. They were presented with their prizes at a meeting of The Highland Council's Education Culture and Sport Committee last week at Inverness.