Mayoral Column 6 October 2014

Published on 06 October 2014

Fire season approaches fast

Fire season is fast approaching and Loddon Shire Council is urging residents to be prepared.

The fire danger period could be declared as early as mid-October after the dry-winter conditions around the region.

The official date is yet to be released, but residents are urged to clean up properties and reduce the fire risk.

The fire season restricts fire in the open air.

Weeds in the gun

Loddon Shire wants your input on the question of roadside weeds and pest animals, in order to start a process which, it is hoped, will identify the best ways for Council and community to battle these menaces together.

As an initial step, Council is keen to hear from residents which weeds are of particular concern and how we can best help landowners meet their legal obligations.

Some possible ways this could happen would be through Council providing information on landowner obligations under the Catchment and Land Protection Act 1994, developing simpler processes for works within road reserve permit applicants, working together on control or identification programs or helping with training, equipment or funding.

The feedback received through this initial consultation phase will help Council shape its future approaches to roadside weed and pest animal management around the Shire.

At the same time, Council is keen to collate information on problem weeds, both on roadsides and private property.  Residents are asked to report the location and extent of such weeds by completing a “Weed Notification” form, available from the Shire website.

For more on landowners’ legal responsibility for weed control, plus a list of declared weeds in the North Central Catchment area, go to www.depi.vic.gov.au

To speak with one of Council’s designated project officers, please call Lauren Lloyd or David Fry on 5494 1200. For submission forms or weed notification forms, go to www.loddon.vic.gov.au 

In an associated, but separate, development, a new Loddon Weed Control Committee convened by the Loddon Plains Landcare Network has formed to develop a collective approach to tackling weeds across all parts of the Shire.

The committee will set strategic directions for targeting weeds and provide a platform for careful planning when it comes to weeds of high priority.

The weed committee brings together representatives from the Loddon Plains Landcare Network, Loddon Shire, North Central Catchment Management Authority, Department of Environment and Primary Industries, Parks Victoria, Conservation Volunteers Australia and other local natural resource management organisations.

Council’s representative on the committee, Manager Infrastructure Program Development David Fry, said Loddon Shire had been given financial support by the Department of Environment and Primary Industries to develop and implement its weed and pest animal control planning.

“That work is under way, but Council has already handed $10,000 to the Loddon Plains Landcare Network to tackle some particular wheel cactus infestations,” David said.

“In Loddon, wheel cactus is currently identified as our number one priority, followed by rabbits and Paterson’s Curse, however we are happy to consider the views of landholders if they believe other weeds are also prolific across the Shire.”

The committee is keen to work with landholders on their options to control priority weeds. For more information, contact Anthony Gallacher on 0447 095 501 or email facilitator@lpln.org

Study tour to fly out

Loddon Shire Councillor Cheryl McKinnon will be part of a study tour leaving for New Zealand this Saturday (12 Oct.) involving 18 students from Boort and Pyramid Hill.

The trip is an initiative of Gateways 4 Sustainable Communities, a program which has worked to highlight agricultural and other career pathways for regional students over the past seven years.

Gateways is a partnership facilitated by the North Central and Campaspe/Cohuna Local Learning and Employment Networks and backed by Northern District Community Health to focus on young people in Cohuna, Boort and Pyramid Hill.

The Years 9-10 students will be accompanied by teachers, NCLLEN Workplace Learning Co-ordinator Barry McKenzie, Cr McKinnon and three other community representatives.

On current plans, they will be taken to dairy, llama, sheep and duck farms, schools and an agricultural college in the North Island’s Waikato region, as well as visiting a fire station training night, a fencing products factory and an innovation park and enjoying a number of cultural experiences.

This is not the first time the Gateways program has taken local students overseas – young people from Cohuna, Boort, East Loddon and Pyramid Hill have previously visited the US and New Zealand.

On their return, the students will speak to local community groups about their time away.

It is hoped a similar group from New Zealand will visit Boort, Pyramid Hill and Cohuna sometime over the next two years.

For more information about the program, phone Barry McKenzie on 0400 696 156.

Road show a stimulus

Wedderburn will play host tomorrow (7 Oct.) to a travelling road show put on by Rural Councils Victoria, an alliance of the state’s 38 country councils bent on supporting and strengthening the voice of local government.

Loddon Shire Council CEO John McLinden and I are both members of the executive committee of the RCV and I became Deputy Chair earlier this month.

John and I will both be attending the Wedderburn event.

The aim of the free workshop is to introduce Councillors and Council staff to the latest RCV planning tools, seek support for a mooted sustainability effort, to share news of innovations and achievements and talk about the planned Regional Victoria Living Expo 2015.

It will be most relevant to Loddon in the areas of economic development, tourism and community development.

Keep this in mind

This is Mental Health Week in Victoria and Loddon Healthy Minds Network has geared up for a special effort to help the cause.

The national event is held each October to tie in with World Mental Health Day next Friday (10 Oct.), aimed at promoting awareness about mental wellbeing.
 
The Network will host Sunshine Breakfasts at three schools – Boort District School this Wednesday, Wedderburn College on Friday and East Loddon P-12 on Tuesday next week (14 Oct.).

Loddon Healthy Minds Network members will be present on each of these occasions.

Wedderburn College plans to stage a presentation entitled “Dare to be You”, while East Loddon is thinking of running a Wheelbarrow Challenge Cup.

Network members would be pleased to come along to any community event planned for later in the year if there was an opportunity to further promote public awareness of mental health issues. Please contact Council’s Community Wellbeing department on 5437 7999.

Welcome, Rebecca

We welcome Rebecca Hodge, who has accepted a part-time fixed-term role at Pyramid Hill Preschool.

Ms Hodge has worked in a casual capacity for Loddon Shire Council for the past couple of months, prior to being appointed to the position.

Ms Hodge will work every Tuesday during Term 4.

“I’m really excited,” she said.

“I have completed my Early Childhood of Education Certificate III and I’m currently studying a Diploma in Early Childhood Education and Care.”

We welcome Ms Hodge to Council’s team and wish her well in her role.