Mayoral Column 2 December 2013

Published on 02 December 2013

Citizenship ceremony Nov 2013

Seven residents of Loddon Shire were welcomed as new Australian citizens last week in a ceremony at Serpentine.  Pictured with Mayor Cr Gavan Holt are, from left, Johnny Correa with children James and Jahna, Dr Chetan Bhardwaj, Lorena Calanova and Delia Estrella.

Town ready to party

The bunting, bandsmen and bikes will be back in Brooke St next Saturday (7 Dec.) when the “Inglewood Alive: Look at Us Now” festival fills the town with colour and sound. This latest event seeks to build on the undoubted success of last year’s inaugural festival, which saw thousands of people enjoying the varied entertainment on offer.

The day has been organised by a sub-committee of the Inglewood Development and Tourism Committee, with funding support from the Inglewood and Districts Community Bank and the local community. Its resources have also been boosted by a $1,000 grant from Council under its latest Events Sponsorship Scheme allocations.

Council’s Tourism Manager, Robyn Vella, said the combined efforts of local and visiting dancers, musicians, primary producers and sporting and motor enthusiasts would guarantee a great day.

“The sub-committee has done a wonderful job in pulling everything together and visitors are bound to find plenty to interest them,” Robyn said.

“We hope they really enjoy themselves and want to come back again to see more of Loddon Shire.”

Chris Sharp, from antiques business Sharp’s Bazaar, said plans were well in place for another exciting day.

“Last year, we estimated we had 2,500 visitors in town and a number of locals said it was wonderful to see so many people in Inglewood,” Chris said.

“At last count, there were more than 20 households signed up for the town garage sale and maps will be available from the Inglewood Resource Centre at $2 each.

“District primary schools have been submitting entries of photographs and decorations for display at the town hall, the Wimmera Axemen’s Association will be chopping wood all day and there’ll be entertainment from the Marist Brothers Band of Bendigo and some keen line dancers.

“Jim Clee, of Meats on Brooke St, is leading the way co-ordinating the classic car and motorbike display and the Inglewood CFA – which celebrates its 150th year in 2014 – will have its equipment and safety information on show.”

Other features of the day will be fine foods, a magic show, craft and produce stalls and open doors at the Eucy Museum, Doll Museum and Brooke St stores. 

Cool start to summer

The swimming pool at Mitiamo was the last of Council’s five pools to open for the summer, but it was worth the wait. The pool and surrounds have never looked better, thanks to four weeks of steady improvement works and the efforts of art students from East Loddon P-12 College.

Council Recreation Officer Tony Bellenger co-ordinated the project with an eye to the pool opening as planned last Saturday (30 Nov.).
Works included the installation of new pipe infrastructure, filters and pump, as well as pool cleaning, some painting and the laying of artificial turf.

Tony also put up seven painted “beach huts”, an art project completed by East Loddon students under the supervision of teacher Pam Townsend.

“Tony gave us a theme of ‘bathing boxes’ and students from Years 5 to 11 have loved being involved,” Pam said.

“East Loddon holds its summer swimming program at Mitiamo early in the year before the annual swimming sports, so the kids will enjoy seeing their work out there in the community.”

The blueboard constructions – another of Council’s funded youth activities for the year – have also been done by students in Boort, Wedderburn and Pyramid Hill and their handiwork will be on display at their respective pools very soon.

Last week’s work at Mitiamo was a great effort, but there’s more to come, thanks to welcome news late last month from Member for Swan Hill Peter Walsh of a $132,000 grant from the state government. The money, allocated under the Community Facility Funding Program, will allow Council to install new shade structures at all five pools and water play features at Pyramid Hill, Mitiamo and Inglewood. The balance of the $209,000 project will be met by Council.

Projects win state backing

Two further state government grants under the same program announced by Mr Walsh will free Council to push ahead with significant recreational initiatives.

The first is funding of $30,000 for a research project aimed at helping Council determine its planning and priorities for Loddon’s sporting and recreational needs for the next 10 years.

The proposed Recreation Strategy Plan Review 2015/2025 will be a high-level document superseding the current plan. Manager Community and Recreation Allan Stobaus said the move for change had been made necessary by Council’s steady rate of progress on its objectives.

“We’re still working to the 2008/2018 plan, but we just want to make sure we’re on the right track,” Allan said.

“We’ve upgraded all our netball courts, our rec reserves are now sustainable through better water management, our tracks and trails are probably 75 per cent done and our pools have seen great improvements.

“As for the future, I believe we need to think around our ageing population – making our pools more accessible, getting our bowling and golf clubs right or encouraging some physical activity initiatives.”

The second grant announced by Mr Walsh was for $33,333, allocated to a major upgrade to the playground facilities at Inglewood’s Sloan Park.

“The playground there is staid, outdated and not altogether safe,” Allan said.

“We will hold community meetings around that to determine what local people would like to see.”

Council will contribute an extra $10,000 in funding and $5,000 of in-kind assistance. Consultants will be employed next year to set both these projects in train and both are expected to be in place during 2014/2015.

‘Yes’ to full refund

Earlier this year, Council threw its weight behind the “Yes” campaign for the planned referendum on Constitutional recognition of local government, but the way things worked out with the federal election, the “yes” turned into “not now”.

As part of its effort, Council contributed $6,724 to a national campaign fund put together by the Australian Local Government Association to press its cause. CEO John McLinden reported to Council last week that, thanks to the federal government, all municipalities would now be fully reimbursed for what they’d spent on that campaign.

Loddon Shire will not be out of pocket as a result of its decision to support the “yes” case.

Don’t be caught out

Tourism-based businesses in Loddon Shire have been urged to take advantage of a new toolkit, produced jointly by Tourism Victoria and the CFA, aimed at helping them prepare for bushfires. The Tourism Business Fire-Ready Kit helps business owners understand their risks, prepare their business and employees, plan how to inform their customers, identify their triggers to act and formulate a written plan.

The kit can be downloaded from www.cfa.vic.gov.au/tourism. It will also be made available at a range of events being held for the tourism industry in Victoria over the next few months.

For further bushfire planning information and support, visit the CFA website or call the Victorian Bushfire Information Line on 1800 240 667.