Shysters slip away
English shysters who duped Bay of Plenty farmers out of thousands of dollars by doing shoddy tarsealing jobs, slipped out of New Zealand this week just ahead of a police investigation that could have found them liable for criminal prosecution.
Tauranga CIB constable Nicky Schrafft said the two men would have been charged with obtaining by deception but they and their two female companions flew to Hong Kong on Tuesday.
Police discovered the whereabouts of the men when they returned two rental cars to Auckland, but they left the country immediately afterwards before investigators caught up with them.
A Pyes Pa flower grower and a Tauriko farmer were together scammed out of $16,500 for woefully inadequate and, in one instance, unfinished jobs.
At first it looked like civil action was the only recourse against the tarseal scammers because there had been verbal agreements and cash changed hands.
However, police have since confirmed the activities could fit the criminal charge of obtaining by deception. Deception meant falsely representing, either verbally or in writing, with an intention to deceive.
No further reports have come through that the two men sealed driveways elsewhere in New Zealand. They hired a Tauranga tip truck for a month and sneaked it back into the yard three days and two highly successful scams later.
An alert has been issued so that if the men try to re-enter New Zealand they will be arrested by airport police.John Cousins
Farmers count cost
Western Bay businesses are still counting the cost of Good Friday's flooding and tornado.
Dairy farmers seem to have been the worst affected. Bay of Plenty Federated farmers president Derek Spratt said cows were suffering from mastitis after some herds missed three milkings.
The tornado also snapped power poles and tangled lines, leaving some Western Bay properties without power for 36 hours.
Meanwhile, Tauranga Computers were inundated with phone calls from businesses and computer users around Tauranga after lightning strikes on Good Friday blew up vital computer parts.
Managing director Steve Morgan said more than 30 computers had been brought in for repair by Wednesday.
"This is the biggest blow-out we have had from lightning strikes," he said.
John Lucas, of the Insurance Council, said they were yet to compile a list of all the claims made as a result of the tornado.Kristin Edge
Interest in subdivision
Papamoa's newest subdivision attracted plenty of interest last weekend - a sign the property market is far from slowing down.
The showhome on Generation Developments' Addison subdivision at the eastern end of Gloucester Rd was opened last Saturday by New Zealand Ironman champion Cameron Brown.
By the end of the weekend up to 500 family groups, some from Auckland, New Plymouth and Wellington, visited the 80-section subdivision - and six home and land packages were signed up. The first stage of Addison involving 35 homes is selling for prices between $400,000 and $500,000, with sections ranging from 520 sq m to 835 sq m. Titles will be through this month.
Subdivision work, including putting in services and streets, has started on stage two which includes 45 homes.
Generation is also pushing ahead with two other Papamoa subdivisions, Milford by the sea and Beach Cove. Milford by the sea, at the end of Longview Drive, is being developed in five stages and will finish up with around 250 homes. Graham Skellern
Med school progresses
Work is progressing on setting up a clinical training school at Tauranga Hospital for final year medical students from Auckland University.
A group of people from the university's Medical and Health Sciences Department visited Tauranga and Whakatane hospitals before Christmas to discuss the idea and view the facilities.
Final-year students were currently sent to Auckland, Waikato and Rotorua hospitals to complete their training but the Bay of Plenty District Health Board is hoping to attract dozens of students here.
If young doctors enjoyed their time at Tauranga Hospital, it was hoped they would consider applying for permanent positions once they graduated.
Tauranga Hospital's chief medical director, Dr Paul Malpass, said a workshop was held recently to assess what clinical education opportunities could be offered here over the next few years. No further discussions have been held with Auckland University since their visit but Dr Malpass said the medical school was taking on more students and he was confident there would be a place for a Tauranga-based training outpost in future. Jo-Marie Brown
College hits high note
Otumoetai College is singing the praises of their concert band which has enjoyed success at a prestigious international competition in Hawaii.
The 40-strong student band competed against 13 other bands from Japan, California, Canada and Alaska last week in an invite-only competition.
Before they left, the Bay of Plenty Times featured one of the band members, Nikki Reynolds, who played the trumpet despite suffering from cystic fibrosis.
Playing the instrument helped the 14-year-old clear her lungs and ease her laboured breathing.
She and the other musicians raised about $3000 each for the week-long trip, where they performed and gained valuable tutoring from leading world conductors.
They received a silver award which meant they performed to an "exceedingly high standard".
Otumoetai College's head of the music department, Vicky Jeffares, said the result was "phenomenal" considering they were a practice once-a-week group.
Other bands practised up to six days every week and one group had over $1 million dollars worth of instruments. Anna Bowden
Late dental checks
Pongakawa School students have finally had their annual dental checks - two years after their last ones.
Principal Craig Haggo was relieved his students have now been checked during the first term of the year - though he said the visit clearly showed there was a need for more frequent checks.
In January, the Bay of Plenty Times ran a story outlining his concerns that some of his students were suffering prolonged dental health problems because the mobile dental service was not visiting the school enough.
Community Dental Services records showed the school's 462 pupils were last treated in February 2003, meaning they had a two-year gap.
Pongakawa was one of five Bay schools which missed out on the 2004 mobile dental unit cycle.
The mobile clinics provided by the Bay of Plenty District Health Board have replaced existing on-site clinics that were not up to health and safety standards at some schools.
Following the latest visit by the clinic in March, Mr Haggo said a need for more regular checks became apparent because children needed more work done. Anna Bowden
Marine reserve closer
A marine reserve at Volkner Rocks is one step closer to being established after successfully passing the submission stage.
Conservation Minister Chris Carter rubber-stamped the plan for the 1444ha reserve near White Island at the start of the year, and recently dismissed all public objections.
In a statement to the Bay of Plenty Conservation Board, he said he was satisfied the protected area would not breach the Marine Reserves Act. The Volkner Rocks area was renowned for kingfish, was spiritually significant to local iwi, and was used for navy target practice until the mid-1990s. Rachel Tiffen