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Nessie's Loch Ness Times

The Friendliest NewsPaper on the WWW

Established December 3rd, 1996
         Saturday 11th August 2001
Issue No 244

Skean Dhu Victory

A teenager who wore a skean dhu to a school dance has won his fight against expulsion.

Teachers suspended Jeremy Hix after he turned up at the end of term party in full Highland dress. They claimed his ceremonial dagger was a lethal weapon and that Jeremy must be expelled. But after weeks of wrangling, the teenager struck a deal with bosses at his American school. He has agreed to quit lessons for a term and attend college instead. He will then go back to the school in Holt, Michigan. Jeremy said: "I feel that this was the best option that was presented to us. Expulsion won't be on my record, so I won't have anything to explain." He added: "I know it was the wrong thing to do and I realise I violated school policy, but I still think it was worth it." Jeremy's great grandfather was Scottish and the teenager, who plays the bagpipes, is fiercely proud of his heritage. He had spent two years getting his Highland dress ready for the school ball, but he was shown the door when the dirk was spotted in his sock. Michigan state law has a zero tolerance policy against knives and expulsion is usually automatic for pupils caught breaching the rules. But the authorities agreed to compromise after Jeremy's case attracted massive publicity, with Scots throughout the States voicing their support for him. One supporter, Russell Macleod Middleton, turned up to play the pipes outside the school board meeting which decided Jeremy's future. Russell said: "I came here to support Jeremy and the Scottish culture. I don't know him, but the more I learned about this case, the angrier I got." Before the crunch meeting Jeremy's lawyer, Frank Fleischmann was told by a Scotland based newspaper the whole of Scotland was behind him. Mr Fleischmann said: "It is great to know that people back in Scotland have taken notice of this case. It means a lot to Jeremy. "The Scottish community have been fantastic. They organised bagpipers and drummers to protest outside the hearing and that gave Jeremy a huge boost." School board president John Malatinsky said: "We're glad it's over and the resolution is fair and reasonable."

Musical Mission

Accordion enthusiast Caroline Hunt is appealing to music lovers in the area for pictures and information about the instrument in a bid to put together a history of the squeeze box. Since developing a passion for the accordion 25 years ago she discovered there are no books currently published that are devoted to the subject apart from ones written in foreign languages. Said Caroline: "I found it very surprising. I could not find any books written in English and all the other books are out of print. I am not an expert. I am just collating the information but I hope that people who may have pictures or knowledge about the accordion will get in touch. I believe it is worth recording." Caroline, from Avoch, first became interested in the instrument after inheriting one from her uncle 25 years ago and more recently she put together a small exhibition. However, this latest venture will depend on support from other enthusiasts who could provide information on some 5000 different models of accordion made between 1850 and 1960.

Spotlight on the Flows

High flying stars of the skies above the famous blanket peat bogs of Far North are being used to help lure people to the area. Rare divers and birds of prey feature in a film produced by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. The film, entitled The Undiscovered Country - The Wildlife of the Scottish Flows, celebrates the spectacular birdlife and plants found on the protected tracts of peatland in Caithness and North Sutherland. Three years in the making, the team has succeeded in capturing intimate portraits of species such as the secretive black throated divers, common scoters and greenshank. Chief cameraman Christiaan May said the project was not without incident. He explained: "We were divebombed by a hen harrier and reported by vigilant locals as suspected egg thieves. "We even had a fledgling hen harrier perch on the roof of the filming hide. His weight on the canvas was enough to make it sag so much that his talons started to dig into my head." Norrie Russell, the RSPB's peatlands reserve manager said: "This is a must see part of our natural heritage and the film captures some of the beauty and magic of one of Britain's most impressive and awe inspiring landscapes."

A World Class Service

The ancient art of piping and computer power have been brought together to provide top grade pipers for events all over the world. Finlay MacGhee is behind a website which started out as a way of making himself available for events. Finlay started piping when he was nine, carried on in the Queen's Own Highlanders and taught the skill to the Sultan of Oman's troops for six years. He teaches bagpiping for Highland Council's traditional music classes as well as running piping classes in Badenoch and Strathspey and some private tutoring in Inverness. Finlay now works with brother-in-law Niall Matheson in Caberfeidh Bagpipe Supplies in Inverness. When he returned from Oman two years ago, he thought about building a website to advertise his services for piping events in the local area. But, after a talk with his other brother-in-law Alasdair Gillies, Professor of Piping in Carnegie Mellon University in America, Finlay decided to make it a worldwide service. Finlay said: "The site is the only one I know of with high grade pipers who can be contacted in their own countries." Up and running for a few months, Finlay has arranged pipers for weddings as far afield as Kent and Texas. He said: "The first wedding was in Texas and I had a piper arranged within 20 minutes of receiving the email - and that was quicker than arranging a piper for a wedding in Nairn the day before which was done by phone."

Among Great Cities

The Highland Capital has grown so fast that it is now setting its sights on a place among the great cities of Europe. And its humbler origins as a Highland market town and meeting place have provided the perfect springboard to its meteoric rise. Local economist, Tony Mackay, says Inverness, once billed as the fastest growing location in the country, owes much of its success to its ability to draw those from outside. "Often, when we talk about the population growth, we're puzzled as to where the jobs are because there doesn't seem to be a lot of jobs," said Mr Mackay. "A lot of people have sold up in the South of England and moved to the Highlands - selling their homes for 100,000 and buying for 50,000 - so a big share of the population increase is from the retired. "Plus, there has been a movement into Inverness from the rural areas of Skye, Sutherland and Caithness." In the 1960s, the economy of Inverness was more balanced than it is today, with 75% of the area's jobs now in the service sector. Today, many of the service and retail operations are not supported by the core of the Inverness population, but by the entire Highland region, with customers coming in from further afield towns like Wick and Thurso. Mr Mackay added: "I'm not sure about the population forecast - I've just finished a big study for population growth and what it shows is a high growth in the 80s and early 90s, but there has been little since."

Top of the Tots

One of Scotland's last family owned whisky firms toasted its success recently after being voted distiller of the year. William Grant and Sons scooped the award after notching up an incredible 16 individual titles at this year's International Spirits Challenge. Most famous for their Glenfiddich malt brand, the firm claimed the best blend trophy plus gold medals for four different malts and a host of runners up awards at the London ceremony. Now five generations into the Grant dynasty, they believe this continuity has helped them to this high point in their history. "This is our best result we have ever had and everyone in the company is delighted," said a spokeswoman. One of the keys to the success has been the firm's malt master David Stewart, who has been with Grants for 30 years. It is his nose which provides the final say so on when whiskies are ready to be bottled. He has also been turning his talents to Spanish sherry in recent times.

Stone Age Cooking Pits

An archaeological dig gas uncovered more evidence on life in the past - including Stone and Iron Ages - in Inverness. As work continues on the city's Southern Distributor Road, archaeologist Ian Suddaby has been working alongside the contractors. So far, he has uncovered up to 90 cooking pits, some of which date back 4000 years, and which are sited between Slackbuie and the Stratherrick Road roundabout. Mr Suddaby said: "This is a most unusual amount. I did not know what to expect when I started this - but I certainly did not expect this number of cooking pits." The egg shaped pits, the largest of which measure two metres by one metre and are about 30cms deep, were found to contain charcoal rich soil and stones cracked by heat. Mr Suddaby is the field officer for Edinburgh firm CFA Archaeology Ltd and his brief is to record and photograph any finds without delaying work on the city's relief road. He said: "Apart from the pits, which are a variety of ages, sizes and types, we have found 12 metres of an Iron Age palisade ditch. "It was constructed to have an upright closely spaced wooden fence in it - possibly with woven wood. "It would have formed an enclosure of some sort, probably fairly close to a house." The work is being funded by Historic Scotland and a site record will be sent to the Royal Commission of Ancient Monuments in Edinburgh for its archives.

Charity Event

The Save the Children shop in Church Street, Inverness, celebrated its 10th anniversary recently. Volunteers have raised over 600,000 since opening in 1991 to help transform the lives of millions of children in over 70 countries. Shop leader Betty Skinner said: "We have a great team of volunteers in the shop. "The public in Inverness have been a tremendous support to us over the years, giving us donations of goods and money."

Political Roundup

Conference In Inverness

Inverness will once again play host to the Scottish Labour Party conference next year. It's another major coup for the millennium city with around 1,000 delegates and guests guests visiting the area. The Highlands of Scotland Convention Bureau has been involved in assisting with the organisation of accommodation and will act as a liaison point between the organisers and the service providers in the Inverness area.

Highland Weather Forecast

Saturday Afternoon
Bright spells in the E. Rain/showers, some heavy in the W. Winds fresh/strong SW-W. Temperature 13c to 19c.
Saturday Night
Showers, heavy/thundery, becoming few from the W. Winds fresh/strong SW-W. Temperature 11c to 14c.
Sunday
A mixed day of sunny spells and occasional showers or spells of rain. Heavier spells of rain overnight.
Monday
Cloudy a.m, rain in E parts. Brightening up p.m, though rain developing in all parts by evening.


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Caledonia



This is Caledonia ( Caley for short ) A Ness-Scape family member and mascot. She is a White German Shepherd. Caley has decided to take over the editing of Nessie's Loch Ness Times, and she's sure she'll make a good job of it. What do you think?

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