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TAS Country : April 7th 2011
Friday, April 8, 2011 Tasmanian Country 11 CAMPAIGNERS: Pat Birchall, Janice McConnon, and Margaret McConnon inside St Chad's. Picture: NIKKI DAVIS-JONES. Community fights sale of its church Byline1 I believe that the church should be offered to the people of Levendale to do as they wish.' St Chad's was built by the McCon- nons, Dares, Birches, Birchalls, Bals- leys and the Rolands; families who still live in the area. It rose on a plot of donated land with locals' money and labour. Tex Rolands' grandfather built the pews and did a lot of the carving. ''Hands off --- our forefathers built this church,'' Mr Rolands said. The community continues to raise funds for the maintenance of St Chad's, including re-roofing, clad- ding, carpeting, connecting power and rewiring and the installation of a self-composting toilet and shed, which was removed by persons unknown in February. ''Our craft money paid for the toilet,'' Mrs Rowlands said. ''When they took it, that was the bottom of the barrel. I think the Anglican Church should come clean, if they own the church, why haven't they maintained it for a 100 years?'' Historian Gerald Crawford said the early settlers of Levendale were ex-convicts, immigrants from Euro- pean countries and free settlers looking for cheap new ground to raise their families. ''They gave of their time for no monetary gain to fulfil the spiritual need in the new community of Levendale by fund-raising to erect a church for all to use,'' Mr Crawford said. ''I believe that the church should be offered to the people of Levendale to do as they wish.'' The last church service at St Chad's was held on Christmas Eve, 2009, followed by a desecration ser- vice in November 2010. ''The forefathers gave the title in trust to the church to hold, to keep it going, not to sell it, you wouldn't pass a title on if you were going to flog it for money,'' Mr Birch said. Bishop Chris Jones said the church was seeking appraisal of St Chad's to prepare for its sale. The Anglican Church had not been contacted by anyone from the Leven- dale community providing details of claims regarding community owner- ship, Bishop Jones said. ''I understand that these decisions are difficult for the people involved and the church does not take them lightly,'' he said. The Levendale community is still hurting about what they say was the absence of the Anglican Church during the long drought. Local farmer Janice McConnon said the community felt abandoned by the church during the drought. ''People didn't have the time to get off their farms, they worked seven days a week feeding their stock and the church was nowhere in sight,'' Mrs McConnon said. ''We had serious problems through this East Coast area.'' Counselling service Relationships Australia came out and offered pas- toral care to communities in Swan- sea, Triabunna, Orford, Buckland, Runnymede, Levendale, Woodsdale and Whitefoord, Mrs McConnon said. No farmer received a visit from an Anglican minister, she added. Levendale has big plans for the future of the church. ''We want to hold non- denominational religious functions like naming ceremonies, marriages and funerals,'' Mr Birch said. Sheep man claims stock theft ignored DISBELIEF: Rob Henry JENNIFER CRAWLEY A FARMER is shaking his head in disbelief at the inaction of police over what he says is major stock theft in the Northern Midlands. But Tasmania Police say they have no evidence of a gang of stock thieves. Cressy farmer Rob Henry said he has had more than 300 sheep stolen in the past month. Mr Henry said 120 sheep were stolen in one lot, others in lots of 20, 30 and 40. The total value of the lost live- stock was about $45,000. Mr Henry reported the thefts to Cressy Police Station. ''We were very disappointed with the reaction from livestock police,'' Mr Henry said. Launceston Detective Inspector Scott Flude said police had no evidence of wholesale theft. ''There is no evidence of trucks, or organised gangs,'' he said. ''The trouble is a lot of these farmers don't count their sheep regularly -- maybe twice a year.'' There have been seven reports of stock theft in the past financial year. Insp Flude said there were two dedicated stock-theft police in the state, one in the east and one in the north. ''Uniform people out in the country are the first port of call for farmers,'' he Flude said. ''They liaise with stock detectives who give them advice on proceeding.'' All stock theft information is collated at the crime manage unit, Insp Flude said. ''The problem is that so many people say they have stuff stolen but a lot of it isn't reported. ''Police don't know unless they are told.'' Meanwhile Rob Henry said he is shaking his head in disbelief. ''My stockman is counting the sheep regularly since our first loss, we are tracking them very care- fully,'' he said. Mr Henry said the lack of police support is forcing him to take matters into his own hands. He is considering putting in surveillance equipment to record thieves. ''That's good,'' Inspector Flude said. ''We can't sit on the side of a country road all night watching the sheep.'' Tasmanian Farmers and Graz- iers Association chief executive Jan Davis wrote to the Police Commissioner in January about the lack of police resources for stock theft. ''Livestock prices go up, people nick them,'' Ms Davis said. ''They're worth a lot of money. This has to be an organised gang with trucks, mobile yards and dogs, and unscrupulous buyers. ''It's happening more and more.'' News SCAN TAG FOR FULL SPECS AND MORE. 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