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A childcare centre and a community hall in Lake Macquarie have been severely damaged by fire overnight, throwing services into mayhem. Police say there’s no evidence to suggest the fires are linked. The teachers and parents at Glendale Early Education Centre had just finished repainting the building, hoping the bright new interior might hide the battle they’ve been waging outside, against vandals. After a robbery earlier in the week, even more heartbreaking news, the centre was severely damaged by a deliberately lit fire just after eight pm. “We’ve actually had a spate of break-ins and vandalisms in the centre, the area is very isolated and we’re in a vulnerable position.” The staff spent today searching for child care places around Lake Macquarie for the 70 affected families. “We will do everything we can, we will work with the council, and …

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A building industry boom which followed last year’s June floods in the Hunter has all but dried up. Australian Bureau of Statistics figures show home building activity in the region has slipped for the second month in a row, prompting fears of a further economic slowdown. Len Blakeney from the Master Builders Association says it’s because of “a mix of interest rates, fuel prices, people are finding it tough that their cost of living has escalated, inflation. It’s a whole lot that’s come together at a point in time.”

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There’s now a $250,000 reward for information on the 1994 disappearance of former Port Stephens model Revelle Balmain. New technology has uncovered fresh evidence from the crime scene in the Sydney suburb of Kingsford and from her belongings. A coronial inquest found that the 22-year-old was murdered but her body has never been found. Revelle was supposed to catch a train in Sydney to visit her parents in Newcastle on the morning of November 6, 1994. Her last known contact was a phone call to a friend on the evening of November 5, 1994.

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A Newcastle-based heavy engineering firm is defying global financial jitters by expanding its operations overseas. Bradken is trying to raise more than $100-million to take full ownership of a large American foundry group. The Newcastle based Bradken empire is becoming so global that it’s no surprise to find CEO Brian Hodges picking up a copy of the China Daily instead of the Newcastle paper.

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Anthony Mundine never holds back, his post weigh-in outburst, which included swipes as NRL boss David Gallop and sections of the media in Newcastle is evidence of that. Upset at the outcry and criticism directed at his friend Sonny Bill Williams after the Bulldog star walked out on a 5-year contract with the NRL club, Mundine hit out on the eve of his fight against Japan’s Crazy Kim. Keeping in close contact with Williams, Mundine described how his mate is coping with the fallout in London with NBN’s Jim Callinan.

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