Turn­ing pages of his­tory

Comment News (Armadale) - - News - Kay Haw­ley 1984-2001

A look back at more than four decades of Com­ment News.

FOR more than four decades, the Com­ment News has pro­vided res­i­dents of Perth’s south­east cor­ri­dor with their lo­cal news. For the pa­per’s last edi­tion, five for­mer ed­i­tors and jour­nal­ists have shared some of the mem­o­rable sto­ries they worked on dur­ing their tenure. With­out doubt, my most vivid mem­ory is the ill­fated po­lice he­li­copter crash (1992) on Kelm­scott Pri­mary School oval.

We hap­pened to have a pho­tog­ra­pher there at the in­vi­ta­tion of the prin­ci­pal for what should have been a rou­tine PR job.

There were 300 kids on the oval to see it land but it crashed in front of them.

It was a great story, made na­tional TV and the dailies were ring­ing me for days ask­ing to use our pics.

The fol­low-up story the fol­low­ing week won me a Press Club award for the best news story in a sub­ur­ban pa­per and the pho­tog­ra­pher won sev­eral awards for his bril­liant pic­tures.

Lu­cien Wilkin­son 2008-2011

My most no­table mem­ory from my time was the Kelm­scott ‘Black Sun­day’ bush­fires of 2011.

I was at the WACA en­joy­ing a day of cricket when, from my van­tage point in the stand, I no­ticed a huge plume of grey smoke ris­ing up in the dis­tance, which I could tell was roughly in the vicin­ity of Kelm­scott.

Pho­tog­ra­pher Jon Hew­son at­tended the scene that day and got some great shots of the blaze and the de­struc­tion it caused, which we hus­tled to get into the next edi­tion.

Over the next few edi­tions, the cov­er­age con­tin­ued of what was a dark day in lo­cal his­tory, all started by the careless use of a grinder by a lo­cal res­i­dent.

Karen Valenti 2011-2013

There are two sto­ries that will al­ways stay with me.

One was about a cou­ple who was des­per­ate to get mar­ried be­fore the groomto-be was un­able to stand be­cause of his mul­ti­ple scle­ro­sis.

They could not af­ford a wed­ding be­cause the groom-to-be had just lost his job.

Af­ter the Com­ment News ran a story about the cou­ple’s plight, many came for­ward to help; a cel­e­brant, limou­sine driver, hair­dresser and even a dress­maker of­fered their ser­vices free of charge.

In the end, the cou­ple en­joyed a beau­ti­ful beach wed­ding; the bride looked spec­tac­u­lar and the young groom was able to stand up at his wed­ding.

An­other story that will al­ways stay with me is the one about Lisa Eades.

What hap­pened to Ms Eades was trau­matic, but it was her quiet, de­ter­mined grace that has stayed with me.

In 2011, the then 33-yearold was su­per­vis­ing at a niece’s party when it started to get out of con­trol.

She was hit in the face with a brick and was lucky to sur­vive.

In­stead of seek­ing re­tal­i­a­tion, she used the Com­ment News as a ve­hi­cle to call on the Noon­gar com­mu­nity to stay calm and let po­lice of­fi­cers do their jobs.

I ended up in­ter­view­ing her at her home in Ar­madale and via the power of so­cial me­dia, I have wit­nessed her long jour­ney back to phys­i­cal and emo­tional re­cov­ery.

I spoke to her this week to ask for per­mis­sion to use her lat­est pho­to­graph and she had this to say about her re­cov­ery.

“Give your pain a voice that helps you re­cover in a pos­i­tive way. Bro­ken crayons all colour the same, in one way or an­other we are all a lit­tle bit bro­ken. It’s ok to not be ok but don’t let your spirit stay that way. At the end of the day, vi­o­lence ends with me and I made it through it all.”

Lisa is now the co-or­di­na­tor at the Wir­ra­panda Foun­da­tion for the Deadly Sista Girlz Pro­gram in Katan­ning at Katan­ning Se­nior High School and for the Katan­ning District.

She has al­ways been thank­ful that Com­ment

News ran her story and she has ex­pressed it many times.

I’m grate­ful to have met this in­spi­ra­tional woman and have been able to fol­low her re­cov­ery.

Rick Lee 2013-2017

We helped a young sin­gle mum with ter­mi­nal can­cer get a dis­abil­ity pen­sion – with back pay – af­ter she was ini­tially de­nied the ben­e­fit. She had two young chil­dren and was gravely ill.

Re­porter Sarah Wa­ters un­cov­ered the story and worked closely with the rel­e­vant gov­ern­ment depart­ment to the ben­e­fit of a lo­cal fam­ily.

Jes­sica War­riner 2017

One of my favourite mem­o­ries would be go­ing up to the or­chards in the hills.

Whether it was blos­som sea­son or golden leaves flut­ter­ing down from the trees, it was a sight to be­hold and a plea­sure to meet the peo­ple be­hind the busi­nesses.

There was a photo of a young boy at Rae­burn Or­chards in June 2017 on the front of Com­ment News for a story about the in­creas­ing vis­i­tors drop­ping by for so­cial me­dia snaps, and it’s still one of my favourite front pages.

Cov­er­age of the he­li­copter crash in Kelm­scott.

Lisa Eades was an in­spi­ra­tion to for­mer ed­i­tor Karen Valenti.

The Com­ment News was in­stru­men­tal in help­ing a cou­ple get mar­ried be­fore the groom could no longer stand due to mul­ti­ple scle­ro­sis.

The ‘Black Satur­day’ bush­fires.

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