Growing up in Maitland in the '60s and '70s, it seemed there wasn't a week when The Maitland Mercury didn't carry a story on waterskiing ace Gary Barton.
Not always the back page - the then Pumpkin Pickers had that pretty much sewn up with a star studded team that won a swag of premierships - but certainly often enough.
The other day I received a call from columnist Brian Burke to tell me that the CEO of WaterSkiing Australia was coming to town to officially induct Barton to the International Waterskiing Hall of Fame as a "Pioneer" of the sport.
Burkey wanted to know if we wanted him to cover it in his weekly column - which is what we decided - or whether to run it as a news story.
Barton has been out of the spotlight for a while now, but it's hard to overstate how good he was at his best ... world barefoot champion for four years running - 1969,70,71,72; he set world records in speed and endurance; he was incredibly influential with new approaches to tricks and equipment.
Little wonder he was named Maitland's Sportsman of the Decade.
Burkey is a long time mate, but he reckons Barton has to be Maitland's greatest ever sportsman.
It's hard to argue.
The thing is in all the time he ruled the sport, in all the time he has been an identity around town, I've never heard a bad word about him.
Well done Gary Barton. You've done Maitland proud.
A TOUCH OF ART
On another matter, I can't draw to save myself. Can't paint either. That side of creativity is a total black hole. As is handyman work around the house, but that's another story.
Anyway, I was speaking with Morpeth Gallery owner Trevor Richards who happened to mention that the latest offering from wildlife artist Stephen Jesic had just arrived at the gallery and already been sold for a none too shabby $55,000.
He sent me an image of it - a pair of Red-tailed Black Cockatoos.
I was aware that Jesic had been named world wildlife artist of the year before, although I wasn't aware he'd managed it in five of the previous seven years.
Richards reckons the cockatoos might be his best work yet.
I must admit I was amazed at the detail. It's stunning. The piece is at the gallery for the next week or so.
All I can say is if you can find a spare half hour, it's worth the effort.
Rick Allen, Editor