Mayoral Column 28 July 2014

Published on 28 July 2014

Cycle race to stop towns                                                                                                  

Residents of Boort and Pyramid Hill have another chance to leave a lasting impression when waves of riders pass through those towns this Thursday (31 July) on their way to Cohuna.
The cyclists will be competing in a day-long 140km road race as part of the six-day/seven-stage Men’s Tour of the Murray River.
There is also a three-day women’s event featuring 72 riders happening the same week, but that will not pass through the Shire. 
The tour is one section of Cycling Australia’s Subaru National Road Series for 2014, a seven-month program of team and individual competitions for men, women and Under 19 riders which sees racing and criterium events staged in every state, plus the ACT.   
The Tour of the Murray River has been sponsored by the Murray River Group of Councils, comprising the Mildura and Swan Hill Rural Cities and Loddon, Campaspe, Gannawarra and Moira Shires.
The sponsorship arrangement is for three years.
Cycling Australia estimates there will be 140 riders taking part, plus support personnel, officials, volunteers, media representatives and spectators.
The event is to be covered on SBS Television and the Subaru NRS website.
The 705km tour, which starts in Mildura tomorrow (Tuesday 29 July) and ends in Yarrawonga next Sunday, includes five road races of up to 155km and two criterium events.
On Thursday, riders will leave Kerang and are expected to pass through Boort around 11am and Pyramid Hill near noon before reaching the finishing line at Cohuna.
Last year, Boort Tourism Group organised a “Festival of Cycling” to salute the visit and staff and students from the three schools in the towns lined the route to cheer on the riders.

Shire Tourism Manager Robyn Vella said this second year of the race through Loddon presented another opportunity for the two towns to make a good impression.

“We want to make our towns welcoming and promote our communities, so the race participants and their support crews feel they’d like to come back another time,” Robyn said.

This year, staff and students from Boort District School, Pyramid Hill P-10 College and St Patrick’s Primary School will line the route, to be joined by children from the Boort and Pyramid Hill preschools. 

Hitting a high note

Council’s youth arts program is going up a notch again this year, with its established music and art projects to be joined in the spring, for the first time, by an excursion into film-making.

Earlier this month, 39 students from the Boort, Pyramid Hill and Wedderburn secondary schools, accompanied by seven teachers plus Council Recreation Officer Tony Bellenger, spent two days in Melbourne producing their own CD.

Using a professional recording studio in Collingwood, the young musicians laid down original songs and covers for the album, which also features their own photography, graphics and written material.
The CD, entitled Next Wave, will have its official launch at Wedderburn College on October 10, to link in with the school’s annual fete.
That day will also feature a display of work brought home from Council’s latest city camp for a group of 20 local art students from four schools, planned for 3-5 September.
Last year saw the running of the inaugural event, where 25 students immersed themselves in a program offered by Melbourne Street Art Tours, the only business of its kind in Australia run by street artists.

The students, all aged from 13 to 17 years, spent three days in town accompanied by Tony and a number of teachers.

They tackled stencil artwork, junk sculpture, spray painting and a collaborative paste-up scene on a city wall, as well as seeing professional examples of these art forms on both the streets of Melbourne and at the National Gallery of Victoria.
The film-making project is planned for 15-17 October, with selected students from all four secondary schools undertaking a program at Blender Studios in Melbourne.
Council’s FreeZa activities throughout the year are funded by the state government’s FreeZa program, which allocated $73,500 to Loddon for the three years to the end of 2015.

Have your say on Council’s budget

There’s now just one week left before Council’s deadline for comment on this year’s proposed budget.

Loddon residents wishing to have their say on Council’s financial planning for this current financial year must do so before Tuesday of next week, 5 August.

Any submissions need to be in writing, addressed to the Chief Executive Officer, Loddon Shire Council, PO Box 21, Wedderburn, 3518.

Council is proposing to spend more than $11.4 million on capital works this financial year, including heavy commitments to roads, community facilities and town streetscape improvements.

It will also fully fund its promised $250,000 for community planning projects, keep up its investment in information technology and continue its support for Aged Services and Early Years programs.

In return, property owners in the Shire will see a 5.5% increase in rates and the municipal charge – the same as last year.

Copies of the budget can be found at the Shire Offices in Wedderburn or Serpentine, your local post office, resource centre or neighbourhood house.

Councillors will meet again on Tuesday 12 August to formally adopt the budget, giving consideration to any comments received in the meantime.

Roads plan approved

The Shire’s road network was back on the agenda when Councillors met for their July meeting last week at Serpentine.
Council’s revised Road Management Plan was up for final approval after an extensive review process last year and four weeks of public display of the proposals.
The plan – which covers footpaths and bridges as well as roads – is essentially concerned with how Council inspects, repairs and maintains these assets.
In this latest, simplified revision, additions include inspections of railway level crossings and minor gravel roads, new standards for bridge and railway crossing defects and specified response times for low-risk defects.
The plan also formally introduces Council’s latest road grading program, proposes improved response times for hazards and tree trimming and inserts a new clause dealing with exceptional circumstances.
A late addition was a new clause covering weed and rabbit control on local roads, as detailed in Council’s Roadside Weed and Rabbit Control Plan.

Give it your best shot

High school students in the Loddon-Mallee region have been invited to get creative and put themselves into the running for cash rewards.

The Victorian government has opened a poster competition for students in Years 7-10 to promote immunisation, with first prizes of $500.

Any artwork on paper can be used, including painting, photography, drawing and collage.

Entries, due by 26 September, should be sent to Sarah Warburton or Barbara Semler at the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development, PO Box 442, Bendigo 3550

Council holds immunisation sessions at high schools within the Shire three times a year, with the next planned for 18 September and 16 October.

Council’s Community Wellbeing team plans to work closely next year with local secondary schools to try to boost student immunisation rates.