Today we continue our 2014 Year in Review with a wrap-up of the big stories that happened in October.

Housing plan

An empty block of land less than a hectare in size at 162 Waihi Rd, Judea could soon become the site of 32 new affordable town houses aimed at retirees and first-home buyers with a budget up to $350,000. The area was being considered for a special housing area development - and if approved the project could be fast-tracked under the Government-city council Housing Accord, and Special Housing Area legislation. Mayor Stuart Crosby said the council had been working towards addressing housing affordability issues.

Beach tragedy
"We just want him to come home." These were the heart-wrenching words from the family of missing 5-year-old boy Jack Dixon who was swept away by a freak wave at Shelly Beach on Wednesday, October 1. His father Wayne Dixon and mother Karen Spargo said they were "shocked, upset and lost" at what happened. An outpouring of community empathy included candlelight vigils, donations, prayers of support and extensive searches. "Not a day goes by where we aren't looking for our precious boy Jack," they said.

Top sausage
Farmer Jones in Owens Place won gold in the pre-cooked or barbecue category for their sausage Big Red in a national hunt to find New Zealand's next top sausage. The store was also awarded silver for its entry in the continental ready-to-eat category with its Cheese Kransky. Other silvers went to Col's Butchery on Maunganui Rd for its black pudding and New World Waihi for its Premium Beef sausage.

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Treaty vision
A Treaty settlement block in Papamoa could be transformed into a subdivision featuring hundreds of affordable homes for young families. Papamoa hapu Nga Potiki's hopes for its 27-hectare block have been unveiled as part of a major initiative to speed up construction of nearly 2000 homes in the future satellite town of Wairakei. It intends to make affordable housing a "significant focus" for its development of up to 460 sections. The hapu would seek "maximum value" from the land, but pledges it would be socially and culturally responsible.

Rentals crisis
Tauranga's housing shortage has worsened with rental listings plummeting by a third and properties being snapped up within hours. Trade Me had 166 rental properties listed in the area compared to 388 rental properties listed in Tauranga during August. Tauranga landlord Lindsay Richards said within four hours of placing the Trade Me ad he had a tenant signed and a deposit paid.

Life cut short
The life of young Tauranga woman Ashley Clements was cut short by a tragic crash just two days before she was to start her dream job. Miss Clements, 22, and boyfriend Jade Wi, 20, died after a crash involving their car and a milk tanker on State Highway 26 between Tatuanui and Waitoa on October 10. Her father Ken Clements said she was due to start work as a consultant for Ballance Agri-Nutrients.

Safe zones
Sixteen tsunami safe zones from Mauao to Papamoa were identified as part of an important new emergency evacuation plan but warning sirens that ratepayers have already spent $200,000 researching are unlikely to happen - and the mayor has all but ruled them out. Mayor Stuart Crosby said the council made the right decision not to use sirens until the national standard came out. Emergency officials say it could take the Civil Defence Ministry more than an hour to activate a siren system following an earthquake.

Sinkhole fall
Waihi man David Keys, 52, was left a quadriplegic after falling down a sinkhole, where he lay for seven hours until his pig-dog Bailey, who had remained at his side, alerted a passing council worker. He had serious spinal injuries after falling off his bike into the 75cm-deep sinkhole at the edge of Morgan Park in Waihi on October 15. Road probe The state of the road where a man died after a car and mobile library collided came under fire, with local residents speaking out over its condition. Police have confirmed a pothole near the crash scene was likely to be part of their investigation. Karanbir Singh, 19, died at the scene after the car, in which he was a passenger, and a library bus travelling in the opposite direction crashed on Welcome Bay Rd, near the Faith Bible College. Neil and Beryl Armstrong said the stretch of road was dangerous.

ODI crowd
More than 2220 people turned out to watch the One Day International between the Black Caps and South Africa on October 21. New Zealand Cricket spokesman James Wear said 2238 fans attended Tuesday's one-day match and about 4532 tickets had been sold for the match on October 24.

Hall destroyed
The old Papamoa Hall was destroyed after a fire ripped through the iconic building. Acting Mount Maunganui Police Senior Sergeant Phil Gillbanks said the blaze was suspicious because it was a building that had not been used for some years. Tauranga City councillor Steve Morris, who saw the fire, said: "it's just so sad, it's been such an icon for the old Papamoa community ... it's all gone, it's terrible."

Garage death
Bay man, Graeme Ramsay, 63, who had been working underneath his Nissan Primera in the garage of his Omokoroa home died after the car fell on him when the jack slipped. Friends said they would miss their "unassuming" mate who had been a member of the Bay Rodders Tauranga car club.

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Building boom
The Bay is on the cusp of a "golden era" in construction with a building boom worth nearly $2.5 billion and Tauranga's ready to cash in - but only if more land is made available. Building and Housing Minister Nick Smith announced in the second National Construction Report, construction in New Zealand was set to reach unprecedented levels worth $100 billion by 2017. However, developers in the Bay were unsure of the projections, with land shortages, over-priced stock, inflated interest rates and lack of labourers.