Mayoral Column 22 September 2014

Published on 22 September 2014

Almost time to cut the ribbon

Council officers are looking at late October for the official openings of two of the year’s biggest development projects in Loddon Shire.

Works on the Bridgewater Caravan Park, Bridgewater foreshore reserve and Wedderburn Community Centre are all but complete, with just a small number of finishing-off tasks still to go.

At the caravan park, the camp office and disabled cabin – both built off-site – have been delivered and the new camp kitchen is nearing completion.

Still in progress are the task of appointing a park manager, some landscaping work, installing a boom gate, establishing a booking system and other minor jobs.

On the Loddon River foreshore, the new public toilet is finished (but won’t be in use until the park opens) and funding applications have been submitted for refurbishment works on the boat ramp at the southern end.

These projects at Bridgewater would not have been possible without the generous support of the state government’s Flood Recovery for Community Infrastructure Fund (in the case of the caravan park) and the Foundation for Regional and Rural Renewal, Percy Baxter Charitable Trust and the Victorian government’s Local Government Infrastructure Program (for the foreshore reserve).

At the Wedderburn Community Centre, the contracts for the refurbishment of the old building and the construction of the new extension have both been completed and the centre is fully operational.

All that needs doing now is a bit more landscaping and some exterior works.

Again, we thank our funding providers – the Australian government’s Regional Development Australia Fund and state government’s Putting Locals First program.

We greatly look forward to officially unveiling these two major developments and warmly invite the Loddon community to enjoy the facilities they provide.

Act on fire risks

Summer may seem a long way off, but now is the time to start thinking and acting on your fire preparedness.

This season’s Fire Danger Period has not yet been announced, but land owners should be taking steps now to attend to property maintenance, clear long grass and weeds, remove potential fire hazards from near buildings and do any burning off they have in mind.

It has been a dry winter and spring is shaping up to be the same, so it’s likely the Fire Danger Period will be introduced earlier than usual unless significant rainfall occurs soon.

As soon as the CFA announces a date, Council will promote the fact through its website and normal communication channels.

Permits to burn will be available from Council this summer, but property owners should try to prepare as early as possible to avoid the risk of running out of time.

Council’s local laws officers will soon begin inspections in all towns to check on potential fire danger issues.  For more information, phone 5494 1200 or visit www.loddon.vic.gov.au

Get those names in now

Council is currently finalising its enrolment numbers for three and four-year-old preschool programs for next year.

Our Early Years staff need enrolment forms submitted as soon as possible so they can accurately determine how sessions should be run in each of the Shire’s five kindergartens.

Alternatively, Council allows parents to submit enrolment forms for their children, but withdraw them later if the proposed session times don’t suit.

For further enquiries, please phone Alycia O'Sullivan on 5437 7999 or email earlyyears@loddon.vic.gov.au

Talking Turkey

East Loddon P-12 College Year 11 student Emma Leech is going on the trip of a lifetime.

Emma, 17, has been chosen as just one of 80 students, 14 teachers and four government chaperones to represent Victoria at the 2015 Anzac Day dawn service at Gallipoli.

The selection process saw 635 students and 104 teachers apply for the trip, with all asked to demonstrate a connection to their community and an understanding of the spirit of Anzac.

Emma, from Mitiamo, said she was “really shocked” at the news of her successful application.

“I come from a more remote location in Victoria, so I was quite pleased to be getting the same opportunity as students from more populated areas,” she said.

“I was invited to Parliament House in Melbourne for the announcement, but it’s still taking a long time to sink in that I’m going.

“Our group will be at Anzac Cove for the dawn service before walking to Lone Pine for another service later in the day.”

Emma has a distant personal connection with the Gallipoli campaign – her great-grandfather’s cousin was seriously wounded on 25 April 1915 and died on a hospital ship two days later. 

College principal Brad Madden said Emma’s selection was a happy fit with the school’s newly established Turkish connections and the work it had done in fostering an understanding of the Gallipoli campaign among its students.

“We had a most successful time with a group of students and their teachers from Turkey in the middle of last year and have already planned a return visit for 2015,” Brad said.

“Ten students from East Loddon, plus a couple of teachers, will be flying to Turkey for three weeks around mid-April to experience a different culture.

“They will be billeted with local families, attend school there and face some deliberate exposure to the history and key landmarks of the Anzacs’ campaign.

“Our students’ understanding of the significance of Gallipoli has been broadened for some years now by our close links with the local RSL, which leads special Remembrance events here before every Anzac Day.” 

Following her time in Turkey, Emma will be encouraged to share something of her experience with her local community.

Smarter planning in force

A new planning process instigated by the state government aims to speed up council approvals of certain classes of permit applications.

VicSmart promises to process applications within 10 business days, knocks out the obligation to advertise them, pre-sets guidelines and allows a council’s CEO or his delegate to rule on them.

It’s important to emphasise that not all permit applications will fall under this system.

Those that do qualify include some land subdivisions, building or demolishing fences, removing or destroying one tree, tree lopping, demolition or removal of outbuildings, erecting carports and other outbuildings, swimming pools and spas, some signage and construction of park infrastructure. 

The VicSmart process came into effect last Friday (19 Sept.).

For more information, go to www.dtpli.vic.gov.au/vicsmart