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EXTRA POLICE OFFICERS TO COMBAT ROAD TOLL

An extra 264 highway patrol officers will be on the beat from tomorrow, in an effort to reduce the state’s climbing road toll. Operation Saturation will focus on 10 areas that have recorded the highest number of fatalities. Among them, Lake Macquarie, Tuggerah Lakes, the Mid North Coast and Tweed/Byron. “The message is people need to slow down, drive to the conditions and pay attention to their surroundings. If they can do that, then we can turn this spike in road fatalities around, said Highway Patrol Commander, Superintendent Bob Ryan. So far 45 people have been killed since the start of the year – that’s up 11 compared to the same time last year. The 12-day blitz wraps up on February 18. (AUDIO IN PARTS)

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SCHOOL DAMAGED BY FIRE

Police are investigating the cause of a fire, which seriously damaged a Lake Macquarie school this morning. Fire fighters arrived at Rathmines Public School at around 12:30 and found the canteen and hall well alight. Crews were able to bring the fire under control. The Department of Education has issued a statement saying all classes are operating as normal. It says it’s looking into alternative temporary canteen arrangements for next week.

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NEWCASTLE JETS APPOINT NEW CEO

The Newcastle Jets have appointed Mitchell Murphy as its new Chief Executive Officer. Mr Murphy was the former CEO of Football Federation Victoria and says he’s looking forward to the role, which starts on February 16. “The Hyundai A-League continues to go from strength to strength and I’m delighted to be given the opportunity to lead the Newcastle Jets,” he said. “We need to focus on the future and not dwell on the past. Developing a strong playing roster and forging long-term partnerships with quality sponsors are obviously of paramount importance.” Meanwhile, owner Nathan Tinkler has today finalisedaround $500,000 in outstanding payments to various creditors, partners and government organisations. Further payments will be made in the coming weeks. “I hope my actions today prove to people my commitment to the Newcastle Jets, the Hunter region, and the Hyundai A-League,” said …

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PLANS UNVEILED FOR NEWCASTLE RAIL CORRIDOR

The state government has unveiled its plans for Newcastle train station, announcing the site will be converted into a regional market space. Planning Minister Pru Goward says the idea came from community feedback generated through last year’s ‘Design Newcastle’ project. “The community told us very clearly they wanted to see Newcastle Station’s valuable heritage preserved, and they wanted unique local spaces like markets to attract people and businesses into the CBD,” she said. Also in their plans, is the removal of Civic Station to open the rail corridor to the Civic Theatre and Newcastle Council. A detailed plan will be presented to the community for feedback by mid-year. Artist impressions of what the Civic precinct will look like.        

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WOMAN SUFFERS SEVERE BURNS IN CARAVAN FIRE

A 45-year-old woman has sustained burns to 20 per cent of her body after her caravan burst into flames at Glenugie, near Coffs Harbour. Emergency services responded to the fire at the Dinjerra Road rest area on the Pacific Highway at Glenugie just after midday. “The caravan has exploded, caught fire and she suffered serious burns to her body,” Sergent Jarrod French. The woman was airlifted to the Royal Brisbane Hospital for treatment. It’s not yet known how the fire started. (AUDIO IN PARTS)

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11-YEAR-OLD HIT BY CAR IN SOUTH GRAFTON

An 11-year-old boy is tonight in a stable condition after being hit by a car. The incident occurred just after 8.30 this morning, outside South Grafton Public School. The Westpac Rescue helicopter airlifted the boy to Coffs Harbour Base Hospital for treatment. He was later moved to Westmead Children’s Hospital. No charges have been laid.

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NEW CELLS FOR MUSWELLBROOK’S CORRECTIONAL CENTRE

The state government has unveiled its plans for an additional 80 cells at Muswellbrook’s St Heliers Correctional Centre. The $10-million project will house 160 inmates and should be operational by August. The new modular cells will be built by prisoners at a cost of $75,000 per cell, compared to $200,000 using traditional methods. “These modern medium-security cells meet current building best practice and are cheaper and faster to build,” said justice minister Brad Hazzard. “This investment in community safety shows that we are ready to adapt flexibly to shifting prisoner numbers using a range of innovative planning measures,” he said.

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