Looking Back – news from the John O'Groat Journal of yesteryear
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Wick magistrates too 'tender hearted'
From the Groat of November 16, 1923
The magistrates of Wick were taken to task in the leader column of the Groat for the leniency of their sentencing.
While mingling mercy with judgement was regarded as a commendable virtue, stated the writer, the local magistrates had been carrying this virtue "to excess".
"They may rejoice in any opportunity of being a praise to those who do well, but it can scarcely be said of them that they are conspicuously a terror to those who do ill. Fines which they occasionally find it in their hearts to impose are for the most part microscopic."
A case in point, said the writer, was the leniency shown to the keeper of a refreshment house who had pleaded guilty to trafficking in excisable liquor without a licence and where "considerable quantities of intoxicating beverages were found in his premises".
Wick was, as the result of a democratic vote, a No-Licence area and such offences deserved harsher punishment.
The writer maintained that "the public in general would, we think, appreciate a sterner attitude on the part of the magistrates not only in support of the police but in the vindication of the law".
Elsewhere, a newly re-elected councillor in Thurso had resigned just a week after the vote. Dr Asher was "displeased" that he had not been made provost. His fellow town councillors hoped he would reconsider.
Extra holidays for council staff
From the Groat of November 16, 1973
Wick Town Council employees were to get eight public holidays in future instead of six, members of the housing and town development committee agreed.
One of the holidays was to be added to the existing Christmas break and the other to the town's annual June holiday.
However, Dean of Guild James Miller "objected strongly" to the holidays being at a fixed time in the year and felt that "members of staff should be allowed to choose their day off". He moved accordingly but could find no seconder and then asked that his dissent be recorded as "did not like the way in which the business was done".
He had argued that the council did not have to "follow any English custom", but he was told that it would be more difficult to keep offices running if the staff had a choice in when to take the public holidays.
Even though many councillors agreed that Mr Miller was correct in stating that allowing staff the choice worked in other large companies and burghs, none chose to support him.
Elsewhere, more than 200 people had gathered in Wick's North Primary School to watch, in colour, the coverage of the wedding of Princess Anne and Captain Mark Phillips. Local TV dealer Bain and Gibson had made four sets available and for many it was the first time they had seen colour television.
Heritage focus at college
From the Groat of November 20, 1998
A new course at Thurso College was to help unlock the cultural and environmental heritage of Caithness and Sutherland.
Community groups from Dunbeath, Lybster, Bettyhill and Strathy had already signed up for the EU-funded course which offered training with one of Scotland's leading archaeologists to develop areas of interest in their localities.
The course was designed to help local people identity resources that could be developed as a tourism asset or a business venture. Part of the course involved travelling by train to Inverness with an audio commentary and worksheets to analyse features of the environment along the way.
Also on the agenda were video-conferences with archaeologist Raymond Lamb.
Successful completion of the course would enable students to progress to HNC, HND or degree courses if they wished.
Meanwhile, a Wick company had helped international singing star Cher to stay top of the charts.
Grampian Records had responded to a call for extra copies of her cassette single at a time when sales of the latest release by George Michael had looked like knocking her off the top spot. The company had received a request from the Warner label for another 20,000 cassettes and within a matter of three-and-a-half hours the order had been completed and despatched to London.
Grampian Records' general manager John Hunter praised his staff for their "hard work and flexibility".