Lachlan Shire Council

New Cemetery Policy for Condobolin on display

By Melissa Blewitt

 

It’s now time for Condobolin residents to have their say on the Draft Cemetery Policy.

The Condobolin Cemetery Committee met on Wednesday, 8 June and after a marathon discussion, tabled changes to the existing Policy that was put to the monthly Council meeting (15 June).

Councillors voted unanimously to put the amended Condobolin Cemetery Policy on public exhibition for a period of 28 days.

There are numerous changes the community need to be aware of.

If adopted, the Policy states burials can only be undertaken at the Condobolin cemetery under the control of a licenced funeral director.

A Funeral Director in charge of a funeral will be liable for the payment of any charges incurred in relation to the funeral.

Council at its discretion may enter into an agreement with any Funeral Director to allow a 30 day line of credit for the payment of any costs incurred in relation to funerals under the control of a Funeral Director.

In relation to Plaques and Monuments; Plaques are to be fixed to the plinth provided in lawn cemeteries and shall be a standard size of between 70mm x 30mm and 380mm x 280mm, etched in bronze with raised lettering.

The placement of plaques is also to be a duty of Council.

When plaques are received by Council, the family will be notified that plaques are going to be installed by Council, and Council will remove the temporary cross. Family members have the option to collect the cross from Council if they wish.

Two months after a burial, Council staff will level off the dirt in the Lawn Cemetery.

Vases, pots, ornaments etc are permitted to be placed on graves for a period of up to twelve months from the date of burial.

After this period ornaments or trinkets under 300 millimetres (mm) high be allowed wholly on each plinth space and that this condition will be retrospective and commence on 1 November 2016.

No motion activated devices are allowed in the Lawn Cemetery and a maximum of two (300 mm high or less) solar lights will be permitted.

The community can have their say on the amended draft policy by making a submission to Council by 4.30pm on 14 July.

Submissions may be sent to Council via  email: Council@lachlan.nsw.gov.au, by mailing them to PO Box 216, Condobolin, NSW, 2877 or delivering them to the LSC office in Molong Street. A copy of the Policy can be obtained at the LSC office, the Condobolin Library or at www.lachlan.nsw.gov.au

Seeking new Village management

 

Many concerned citizens gathered in the Council Chambers to discuss the future of the Condobolin Retirement Village at a public meeting last Tuesday. MB

By Melissa Blewitt

Lachlan Shire Council (LSC) is seeking new management for the Condobolin Retirement Village.

Around 100 people crowded the Council Chambers to discuss the future of the facility at a public meeting last Tuesday.

Patrick Herd from  Community Business Australia, who has been employed by LSC as a consultant, chaired the meeting.

Lachlan Shire Mayor John Medcalf announced at the meeting, Council was looking to an approved provider within the aged care industry to take over operations as early as July.

The Whiddon Group confirmed at the meeting that it will continue to manage the Village until a new provider is chosen and the transition process concludes.

A major concern for some, was the fact the Retirement Village would no longer be accepting new residents until this process is finalised. “My concern is that the people who will need it most during this time, will have to go out of town, and won’t return,” a concerned resident stated. Whiddon and LSC both confirmed no new residents would be accepted until all processes were finalised.

“Council plans to secure an experienced provider in a long term appointment to ensure ongoing quality care for residents, continued support for existing staff and to guarantee a sustainable future for the village”, Councillor Medcalf  said.

Two important questions remained unanswered after the meeting, after they were raised by coimmunity members.

Firstly, what was the “honest” reason for the breakdown of the relationship between LSC and Whiddon; and What would happen if no aged care provider could be found.

Expressions of interest will be evaluated by Council at a special meeting scheduled for mid-June, and the successful applicant will  be invited to present their proposal at a public forum shortly after.

Condobolin major water interruption

Over 70 Streets will be affected by a major water supply interruption in Condobolin on Sunday 22nd May beteween 8am and 5pm. Red lines indicate the affected streets. Ring LSC on 6895 1900. Source LSC

By Melissa Blewitt

Much of Condobolin will be without water, as Lachlan Shire Council undertakes critical maintenance works, prior to upgrading the Denison Street reticulation on Sunday, 22 May.
The major water interruption will take place between 8am and 5pm.
Residents and business owners are advised there will be a complete loss of supply, according to Lachlan Shire Council’s Director of Infrastructure Services, Phil King.
“The interruption is to allow Council to undertake further critical maintenance works prior to upgrading the Denison Street reticulation,” he explained. Residents in the affected areas are requested to ensure they have ample water in reserve to cover their requirements during the interruption to service.
Residents in the affected areas are requested to open an outside tap once loss of supply has commenced.
Consumers residing in all other streets of Condobolin may experience reduced pressure and water discolouration, although are not expected to lose water supply.
Any residents that have a special water need should contact Council immediately on 02 6895 1900 for service arrangements to be made.
Streets to be affected are: Adams Avenue, Alldis Street, Bathurst Street, Bathurst Lane, Baxter Street, Bright Street, Browns Lane, Burnett Street, Busby Street, Condon Street, Craft Crescent, Crouch Street, Denison Street, Diggers Avenue, Doyle Street, Evans Street, Fay Street, Gatenby Street, Georges Lane, Gifford Place, Golf Links Road, Goobang Street, Goodwill Street, Gordon Street, Graf Street, Gum Bend Road, Harding Avenue, Hay Street, Henry Parkes Way, High Street, Honan Street, Innes Street, Jones Lane, Kiacatoo Road, Kurrajong Street, L’Estrange Street, Lachlan Street, Lachlan Valley Way, Madline Street, Mahonga Street, Maitland Street, Marsden Lane, Maslin Street, May Street, McDonnell Street, McGregor Street, Melrose Street, Melrose Road, Miller Street, Moller Street, Molong Street, Mooney Street, Moulder Street, Napier Street, North Forbes Road, Officers Parade, Orange Street, Oxley Street, Randall Place, Rogers Street, Scott Street, Silo Road, Station Street, Stenhouse Street, Tasker Street, The Gipps Way, Turner Street, Watson Street, Wattle Street, Whiley Street, William Street, Willis Lane, Willow Bend Road and Willow Bend Village.

Whiddon wants out

• The Whiddon Group “Is no longer prepared to operate the Condobolin Service in partnership with LSC (Lachlan Shire Council).” MB 

The Whiddon Group released the following letter to residents, families, staff and the Condobolin community on Tuesday, 19 April, 2016. It pertains to the negotiations between the company and Lachlan Shire Council in relation to a two-year lease extension at the Condobolin Retirement Village.

 

To our residents and families, our employees and the Condobolin community.

As many of you are aware, Whiddon has been negotiating with the Lachlan Shire Council (LSC) to enable our organisation to continue with the management  of the Condobolin Aged Care Services and Independent Living Units.

Our initial negotiations began in December 2015 and up until March 2016 we were hopeful that both parties would enter an agreement to extend our management of the service for a further two years.

Whiddon committed more than 240k in 2015 to provide new equipment and update areas of the home, including the dementia care wing. Furthermore, we wrote to the LSC in November 2015 confirming that Whiddon would commit an additional 260k towards repainting the entire home, asbestos remediation and equipment upgrades.

Over and above these investments, and following Whiddon’s appointment in 2010 as managers of the service, we have subsidised operating losses in excess of $2M dollars as at December 2015. Our actions and investment not only underpins Whiddon’s strong commitment to the service, but also our willingness to remain embedded in the Condobolin community.

Whiddon plays an important role as a care provider in rural remote NSW and this is demonstrated every day at locations auch as Condobolin, Temora, Bourke, Walgett, Wee Waa and Narrabri. We understand the important role we play in caring for local people while also keeping our residents connected to their families and communities. We also understand the role services such as this play in contributing to the local economy and in providing employment opportunities  for local people. Whiddon contributes millions of dollars annually to rural and remote communities across NSW. This occurs through the creation of stable employment, ongoing skill development and our daily spend with local businesses, valued at $3M per annum.

Given the commitment that we have already demonstrated, we were very disappointed at the content of the article, which was published on the front page of The Lachlander, announcing that the LSC intended to place the service on the market and did not intend to extend the term of the management agreement beyond six months. The article was published with the knowledge that the service was due for re-accreditation in August 2016 and that Whiddon has already commenced a $500K upgrade for 2016, in addition to the substantial financial commitment made over the past 6 years.

Given the instability, unnecessary angst caused for the residents and employees, and delays we have experienced working with LSC, Whiddon is no longer prepared to operate the Condobolin Service in partnership with LSC.

We are a not-for-profit organisation and have more than proven that we are not driven by  commercial outcomes at Condobolin. Our actions to date clearly demonstrate that our interest lie in providing quality a aged care services to the Condobolin Community. Despite the challenges we have faced, we have a genuine desire to continue to operate this service long into the future, invest in the home and its employees, and provide provide care and support to our residents and their families.

Noting that Whiddon, not the LSC, have subsidised $2M in losses, over the last 5 years, it is our belief that the Condobolin Community will be best served with the property and service owned outright and being operated by Whiddon. The LSC Council do not currently share this view.

The Condobolin  Service does not generate sufficient funds to meet the ongoing needs of the building or replace equipment as it begins to age, and given Whiddon’s size and experience in locations such as this, it is our view that we are best placed to continue to subsidise operations into the future, and serve the community’s needs. We have a well earned reputation for quality care services in the many regional, rural and remote locations that we serve and our priorities will always lie with our residents, their families, our employees and the community.

The LSC have indicated that they are not prepared to accept the recommendation, made by Whiddon, and as such we have been left with no other choice but to allow our Management Agreement to lapse. In order to assist with any future transition of the service back to LSC whiddon will firstly provide three months notice effective today.

We, like yourselves,  must now be guided by the LSC and will wait to understand how they wish to proceed.  It is important to note that under the provisions within the Aged Care Act 1997 the situation we find ourselves in hinders  Whiddons ability to provide ongoing security of tenure for our residents. This means that we will cease to take new admissions until the LSC makes their intentions known. Rest assured that we will continue to care for all our existing  residents. Additionally, staff will continue to be employed by Whiddon to continue to meet the needs of our residents in Condobolin.

The decision to proceed this way has not been made lightly; it has weighed heavily on many of us and goes against Whiddon’s core principals. However, continuing with the current arrangement will compromise our services and ultimately impact on our esidents and employees in a manner that we are not prepared to support.

It is our belief that by moving this into the public arena you will be able to voice your opinion directly to the LSC or your local MP. We genuinely hope that with your support we can convince the LSC to allow Whiddon to move forward and continue operating this vital community service.

Notwithstanding, we would like to extend our thanks to Robert Hunt, LSC General Manager, and Cr Des Manwaring, who have shown great support and consideration for our residents and employees at the Condobolin Aged Care Service and Independent Living Units.

Whiddon is also keen to hear from you on this matter, so please feel free to contact us at media@whiddon.com.au.

 

Sincerely,

Chris Mamarelis.

Chief Executive Officer.

 

Checking Condo Child Seats

Lachlan Shire Council are ensuring that children are secure when travelling in vehicles with free child restraint checks next week as part of the I’m counting on you project.

* Melanie Suitor showing a child safety seat . Free checks for child restraint seats will be held behind the RSL on Thursday 16 July from 12 to 2pm.

Press Release

Lachlan Shire Council are ensuring that children are secure when travelling in vehicles with free child restraint checks next week as part of the I’m counting on you project.

Free child restraint inspections will be provided by RMS Authorised Child Restraint Fitters in Condobolin on Thursday 16 July in the car park behind the Condobolin RSL Club from 12 noon – 2pm.  Bookings are essential, phone 6861 2364 to secure your place. Information about the national child restraint laws, the types of restraints and advice on moving children from one restraint type to the next will be available.   There will also be a free BBQ and a colouring in competition for the kids.

Lachlan  Shire Council’s Road Safety and Injury Prevention Officer, Melanie Suitor, has organised child restraint checking days in the past and says that 80% of child restraints inspected were found to be installed incorrectly.

“The correct fitting and adjustment of child restraints is vital.  Research shows that 2 out of 3 child restraints are not being used properly and this puts children at risk in the event of a crash.

“Most of the child restraints that were checked last time we offered this service had minor problems that needed fixing to ensure the safety of the child, such as tightening straps, checking clips and replacing loose bolts.

“It is important to have your child restraint checked regularly after prolonged use and installed correctly before use to ensure that your precious cargo is safe.

“An unrestrained child can sustain devastating injuries by coming into contact with the interior of the vehicle or going through a vehicle window if they are unrestrained or are not restrained properly.

“However, children travelling in a car do not have to be involved in a crash to suffer serious injuries.  A child who is not properly restrained can be badly hurt as a result of sudden braking.

“One of the aims of the I’m counting on you project is to establish and hold annual child restraint checking days – this checking day is the first of hopefully many similar events,” Ms Suitor said.

 

Lachlan Shire Council’s $7.4 million fitness test

How will Lachlan Shire Council make itself ‘fit for the future’? And what will this mean for the services it provides to its ratepayers?

By Lara Pearce

A number of community members voiced their concern over Council’s proposed rate rises at last Wednesday’s community meeting.

Among the most contentious were the water charges, which have already risen from $0.70/kl for the first 450kl in 2005/06 to $2.03/kl in this financial year. Next year, they will be $2.30/kl for the first 600kl used.

The Council says that these fees are necessary to cover the ongoing maintenance costs, which are higher than many neighbouring Councils due to the aging infrastructure and the distances that pipelines have to cover, due to the large distances between Lachlan Shire’s towns.

It also cites the development of a new water treatment plant for Condobolin, which has been costed at $10 million. The Council expects that the NSW Government will contribute $5 million.

“If the State Government contributes more than 50% of the project then there will hopefully be a levelling of water charges,” said John Chapman, Council’s Chief Financial Officer.

Council staff also noted that they are considering introducing a charge on Condobolin’s truck wash so ratepayers would not have to fund this service.

Condobolin nursery owner, Gary Venables, said that by increasing fees, he believes the Council could end up losing money as people will reduce their water usage.

“I consider that Council are walking down a false economy path,” he said. “If they believe that people are going to pay those new fees, I am here to tell that they won’t.”

“I am in a position both privately and business-wise to see that first hand.”

Maxine Staniforth presented a petition from a large number of community members, expressing their concern over the proposed water rates.

Concerns over the tip charges were also expressed, with rural residents noting that they already pay an annual waste management fee and do not have a curb side collection service.

One resident proposed that Council should include a number of free visits to the tip within the annual fee.

Tightening the belt on Lachlan

By Lara Pearce

Lachlan Shire residents are being urged to attend community meetings to discuss the Council’s proposal to stand-alone amidst controversial plans to increase rates in the 2015/16 year.

The Council has less than two weeks left to finalise its proposal to the NSW Government outlining why it should remain a stand-alone Council. The ‘Fit for the Future’ report, which must be completed by all local councils in NSW, is due on 30 June.

The Lachlan Shire Council is holding public meetings in Tottenham, Condobolin and Lake Cargelligo. Condobolin’s meeting is scheduled to take place tonight, Wednesday 17 June, at 6pm at the Council Chambers.

The Mayor, Des Manwaring, is urging residents to have their say.

“The process is not a matter of tick and flick or what position the Council or the community wants to take,” he said. “It is up to the Council and the residents of Lachlan to prove we are ‘Fit for the Future’ by 2020 and we are going to have to make changes to remain a stand-alone Council.”

Among the changes flagged by Council are increases to water and sewerage rates. This is in spite of recent community calls to reduce water rates, which have almost tripled in ten years.

Water usage charges for residential users are set to increase from $2.03/kl to $2.20/kl for the first 450kl and from $3.05/kl to $3.30/kl after that starting from 1 July.

Water access charges would also increase by 7% plus $25, while the annual sewerage charges are proposed to increase by 2.5% plus $75.

Council has also announced it is planning on applying for a Special Rate Variation (SRV) allowing it to increase rates by 5% in addition  to the standard rate peg increase of 2.4% for four consecutive years, starting from 1 July 2016.

Other revenue-raisers include: charges for the use of tips and waste facilities; modest increases to rates for Domestic Waste Management of around 2.5%; and the closure of Albert, Fifield and Derriwong tips, to be replaced with a kerbside collection service.

The Council has also indicated that it will not be filling some positions which currently stand vacant.

The Independent Local Government Review Panel has recommended that Lachlan Shire merge with Parkes Council in order to become more economically sustainable – a suggestion which has met with widespread community backlash.

“Previous community consultation overwhelmingly wanted Lachlan to remain a stand-alone Council,” the Mayor noted.

“At these upcoming community meetings, input will assist in determining an appropriate response for ‘Fit for the Future’.”

Once the ‘Fit for the Future’ report is submitted, the NSW Government’s independent expert panel will review the submissions and make its final recommendations to the state government in a report by 16 October.

Premier Mike Baird will then make the final decision.

Order of Australia for former Deputy Mayor

Four-time Deputy Mayor of Lachlan Shire Council, Noel Bennett, received an Order of Australia on the Queen’s Birthday Honour List on Monday.

• Noel Bennett, pictured in 2006 during his time as Deputy Mayor of Lachlan Shire Council, was awarded an Order of Australia on the Queen’s Birthday Honour List on Monday. KP

By Lara Pearce

Four-time Deputy Mayor of Lachlan Shire Council, Noel Bennett, received an Order of Australia on the Queen’s Birthday Honour List on Monday.

Mr Bennett was awarded the OAM in the General Division for services to local government and the Lachlan Shire community.

“I was thrilled, I was humbled, I was honoured,” said Mr Bennett of hearing the news. “I have always had a desire to make things better for people and if that is what I have been able to achieve, then I am very happy.”

Mr Bennett, who lives in Tottenham, was a Councillor from 1991 until 2008, serving four times as Deputy Mayor, as well as spearheading a plethora of community organisations.

“A couple of people approached me in 1990 and asked me to stand for Council,” he said.

“The roads in this area particularly were a key concern – we had never had a sealed road out of Tottenham. We fought hard. Now, we have all sealed access out of Tottenham.”

“I tried hard as a Councillor for all communities. If people came forward with a concern and were prepared to put some money or some time into it, I would support them.”

Lachlan Shire Mayor, Des Manwaring, worked alongside Mr Bennett during his seventeen years on Council and offered his congratulations on the announcement.

“It is very well-deserved,” he said. “Noel was a man who once he took something on, he got into it teeth and all and never gave up until he achieved what he set out to achieve for his community.”

“He is a great ambassador for Tottenham and the Lachlan Shire. Particularly in Tottenham, he was involved in nearly everything that moved in some way or another. It is a real credit to him.”

Mr Bennett was also responsible for starting the Lachlan Advisory Group based in Condobolin in the 1980s, serving as the organisation’s inaugural President.

“In the early 80s it was a very difficult time for people on the land,” he said. “This is when interest rates were up over 20%. 81/82 were drought years and some changes in income tax laws were having an effect.”

“I had some very, very sad calls from women who were in tears – when you start getting those phone calls, you know people are pretty desperate.”

“With Fran [Rowe]’s expertise and her continual negotiations with the Government, we were able to get some guidelines put in place for people with their finances.”

The Mayor commended Mr Bennett for initiating the group, which is still running today.

“Noel had seen that there was a great need,” Clr Manwaring said. “It was the first of its kind in NSW. His foresight there was spot on.”

Among the achievements Mr Bennett is most proud of is the new Tottenham Multi Purpose Service (MPS), which was built in 2009.

“I was Chairman of the local hospital board,” he said. “We worked to get funding to build a new MPS with allocated aged care beds. Before that, our aged care patients had to move towns, which is disgraceful. Now, there are six nursing home beds and four acute care beds and they are always full.”

At 76 years old, Mr Bennett remains an active member of the town’s Progress Association, the Tottenham Golf Club and the Tottenham Health Advisory Council.

He was a founding member of the Tottenham Tidy Towns committee in 1996. In 2008, he was named Tottenham Citizen of the Year.

Mr Bennett says that his one regret in accepting this recognition is that his late wife, Margaret, is not here to share it with him.

“I wish she was here,” he said. “I lost her two years ago and she was a terrific support to me. I just hope that she is up there looking down at this.”

He also offered his thanks to all those who have supported him over the years. “I have had a lot of support from the different volunteer organisations and the people who work on those organisations,” he said.

“I would also like to thank the people who nominated me, whoever they are.”

Gardeners forecast “dust bowl” town

Lachlan Shire Council water users are being hit with higher water charges than any other nearby Local Government Area, putting pressure on many struggling to pay their bills.

• Local gardener and Secretary of the Condobolin Garden and Floral Art Group, Maxine Staniforth, has always taken pride in her rose gardens, which feature in the biennial Condobolin Garden Festival. However, she has now replaced 12 of her white ice berg roses in her backyard with water-conserving seaside daisies due to Lachlan Shire’s high water rates. LP

By Lara Pearce

Lachlan Shire Council water users are being hit with higher water charges than any other nearby Local Government Area, putting pressure on many struggling to pay their bills.

Many local gardeners say they cannot sustain their gardens at the current water rates, which currently stand at $2.05 per kilolitre for the first 400KL and $3.05 per kilolitre after that.

This is more than double the rate charged by Forbes Shire Council of $0.90 per kilolitre and 40 cents a kilolitre more than Parkes, which charges $1.65 a kilolitre.

Maxine Staniforth, who is the Secretary of the Condobolin Garden and Floral Art Group, believes that much more is at stake than just the flowers themselves. She sees the maintenance of attractive lawns, parks and community gathering places as crucial to Condobolin’s social and economic wellbeing.

“If we don’t get the water rates down, that will be it and the town will be a dust bowl,” she said. “We won’t attract businesses. Young people, teachers – they won’t want to come here.”

“At the Anglican Church, we have flower shows – they will be a thing of the past. We need these community events in a small town. Otherwise we don’t get together.”

As Chief Steward of the Cut Flowers and Floral Art exhibit at the annual Condobolin Show, Mrs Staniforth is also concerned with the decreasing number of entries the exhibit has seen in the past two years.

“The flowers have always been a favourite exhibit,” she said. “What is going to happen to the floral art? It will be gone.”

Herself an avid gardener, Mrs Staniforth has pulled out many of the water-hungry roses in her own garden to keep her water bills down.

“It is a shame because they always were a feature,” she said, “but people are not willing to pay $1,000 a quarter to have a greener garden.”

Lifelong resident of Condobolin, Conway Seymour, is also concerned about the impact on the town if people neglect their lawns and gardens.

“It will give people a bad impression of the town,” he said. “There will be less people inclined to buy in Condobolin and establish businesses in Condobolin. If you compare it with a town like Forbes, which has got good water rates, the town is a much lusher town.”

He has put bark over much of his own lawn to cut back on water costs.

“I have halved my water consumption overall and I am still paying fairly big bills,” he said.

Biddy Brady moved from a property into town three years ago and has worked hard to get her grass to grow and beautify her garden.

She had been paying around $200 a quarter for water, but the past two water bills saw this skyrocket to around $1,000.

“For the price of water to rise so dramatically without any warning, it was a shock,” she said.

She says she cannot afford to continue to pay such a high price for water.

“Do you let your lawns die? Do you let Condobolin become a dusty, rusty town? Or do you pay exorbitant prices? Then if you do that, you have to cut down on your living expenses – food and so on. It is very sad.”

Mrs Brady asked to have her bill explained to her by the Council when she paid her last bill last Thursday, 28 June, and was told someone would be in touch but as of Tuesday morning had not heard back.

When contacted by the Argus, the General Manager of the Lachlan Shire Council Robert Hunt said that the Council had to set water prices at the current rate to cover their water infrastructure costs.

“We have a $10 million project to replace the water treatment plant. Because we have to replace that, we have to increase our usage charges,” he said.

“We have to get a return on our assets, because [the State Government] wants every Council to.”

He notes that if the Council is unable to make a profit from its water charges, it risks having the State Government remove control of the water and sewerage works from Council and putting it in the hands of a county council.

Mr Hunt said that the new plant would offer a better standard of drinking water for the community and that it was possible that the Council would be able to reduce water rates once the water plant had been built.

“It will depend on the other towns and what other infrastructure needs upgrading,” he said.

The State Government mandates that 75% of the income from water rates be from usage charges, with the remainder coming from access charges.

“If we have a really wet year and people don’t use that water, we don’t get the income in,” Mr Hunt said. “I would rather have a 50% user charge, but it is set by the State Government.”

“The whole idea of this by the State Government to bump up the user charge is to conserve water.”

Mrs Staniforth believes that water restrictions should be used to encourage water conservation, rather than rate hikes.

“I feel that the Council has failed in its duty of care to their responsible rate payers, who feel very, very strongly about their community,” she said. “They are making money out of our excess water bills.”

“I care very much about our community. I have lived here for fifty years, have no intention of moving and I hate to see the general appearance of the town degenerating so quickly.”

Mrs Staniforth plans to get a community petition together and hold a community meeting in hopes of getting the water charges reduced.

New General Manager for Lachlan

Lachlan Shire Council will soon have a permanent General Manager in place with the appointment of former Liverpool Plains Shire Council General Manager, Robert Hunt.

• The new General Manager of Lachlan Shire Council, Robert Hunt. Contributed

By Lara Pearce

Lachlan Shire Council will soon have a permanent General Manager with the appointment of former General Manager of Liverpool Plains Shire Council, Robert Hunt.

The Mayor announced the appointment today, Monday 23 March, following an interview last Friday.

Mr Hunt will commence in his new role on Friday 10 April.

 

 

More details to follow in this Wednesday’s Argus.

Sharon says goodbye after 35 years as Condo librarian

What started as a casual job while raising her children at home has turned into a lifelong vocation for local librarian Sharon Denyer.

• Sharon Denyer enjoyed an emotional final day of work at Lachlan Shire Library last Friday as she farewelled colleagues, library-goers and the books she knows so well. LP

By Lara Pearce

What started as a casual job while raising her children at home has turned into a lifelong vocation for local librarian Sharon Denyer.

Mrs Denyer finished up as Head Librarian of Lachlan Shire Library last Friday after 35 years in the job.

She celebrated her final day surrounded by flowers, cards and chocolates with the welcome interruptions of visitors dropping in to share their good wishes for the future.

The Condobolin local of 41 years says the past three and a half decades have brought many changes to the library, but the time has passed quickly.

“I’ve seen people come in with their little babies, and the next thing you know, [the children] are bringing their own children in!”

When Sharon started working at the library, she never dreamed of how far it would take her. In 1979, she started out helping at the library for ten hours a week.

“I grew up in Forbes and Wayne, my husband, is in the Ambulance, so we came here for his job,” Sharon explained. “It wasn’t until my youngest child went to school that I decided a part time job sounded pretty good.”

In those days all the book loans and returns were entered manually on cards in the backs of the books.

“Margaret Job was the Librarian then,” Sharon reminisces. “We typed everything into typewriters, so you got to know the books quite well.”

Over the following years, Sharon saw the library renovated to double its original size and the collection of books expanded. The books – which are rotated between Condobolin, Lake Cargelligo, Tottenham and Burcher libraries – now number around 32,000.

In 1990, Sharon took over from Margaret as Librarian. “Then, we started using computers in 1995,” she said.

“I have thoroughly enjoyed my time here. All the girls I have worked with over the years have been fantastic and it is a great work environment,” she said. “You meet some lovely people.”

With friends and library-goers rallying around to bid her farewell and bring gifts, it seems that the sentiment is returned.

Sharon will be enjoying six months of accumulated long service leave before officially retiring on 17 July. She and her husband Wayne plan to enjoy their retirement in Forbes close to family and friends.

The Lachlan Shire Council congratulated her on her long service at a party last Friday evening.

A Fiesta of delights

It was shopaholic heaven on Bathurst Street last Thursday evening as the Christmas Fiesta saw bargain hunters lining the streets.

• Sarah Maurice sitting with Santa Claus in front of the Christmas tree at the Lachlan Shire Council’s Christmas Fiesta last Thursday. LP

By Lara Pearce

It was shopaholic heaven on Bathurst Street last Thursday evening as the Christmas Fiesta saw bargain hunters lining the streets.

The shops remained lit up, doors ajar, and special offers and deals abounded. Heavy rain in the hours leading up to the event could not dampen the spirits of business owners or shoppers, with skies clearing as proceedings got underway.

General Manager of the Lachlan Shire Council, Liz Collyer, was out with her loudspeaker, spruiking the events and announcing the winners of the Shopping Tickets prizes.

“It was a great night,” she said. “There was a good vibe. People were very busy in the shops and retail outlets […] it is more important than ever this year, now that Target is not there.”

“Some people said that numbers might have been down but sales were up, so people are getting the idea of what the whole thing is about. We certainly had more entries in the prize draw than last year.”

Many local businesses, including the Willow Bend Sports Centre and the Condobolin Newsagency, set up stalls on the footpaths for people to see their wares.

Proprietor of the Condobolin Newsagency, Mick Hanlon, said he was extremely happy with how the evening went. “We had lots of people coming through the store – it was a very positive evening with lots of community involvement,” he said.

“We would like to thank the Shire for their initiative and support and the other businesses that participated.”

In the belief that actions are stronger than words, Kim Lark and Natasha Hosie from Don Lark Motorcycles showed off the store’s scooters by riding them up and down the street.

“We were just promoting our store by showing our new scooter range,” Kim Lark said.

She is keen to see the event make a comeback next year. “I thought it was good for the community and good for the business houses,” she said. She also suggested that next year the shopping passports could be collected in the days leading up to the event as well as on the night to help build momentum and generate sales.

As the adults shopped, the children enjoyed the Rotary Society’s jumping castle and sharing their Christmas wish lists with Santa.

Local band 3rd Base kept Bathurst Street pumping well into the evening. As dark settled, the crowd gathered around the sparkling Christmas tree in Renown Park. Lachlan Shire Council Mayor Des Manwaring welcomed everyone to the event with the hope that they had had a successful evening shopping.

The winner of the children’s Christmas tree lights competition was then announced. With 340 entrants this year, it was baby Ellie May Dwyer who had the honour of turning on the lights to Condobolin’s Christmas tree. Fireworks followed, making an explosive finish to the evening.

Ms Collyer said that the event is about changing people’s attitudes towards shopping. “It is not just about the night; it is about having ongoing support of the retailers,” she said. “While the night is trying to highlight the need to shop local, it is just one way of trying to get people to think like that the whole year round.”

The Council will be garnering feedback from the businesses involved at their Business Connect meeting tomorrow.

Mayor and Deputy re-elected

Councillors Des Manwaring and John Medcalf have both been re-elected to their positions as Mayor and Deputy Mayor of the Lachlan Shire Council.

• Clr Des Manwaring was been re-elected as Mayor of the Lachlan Shire for the ninth time in a row. KP

Councillors Des Manwaring and John Medcalf have both been re-elected to their positions as Mayor and Deputy Mayor of the Lachlan Shire Council.

• Clr John Medcalf will also continue in his role as Deputy Mayor. KP

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Lara Pearce

Councillors Des Manwaring and John Medcalf have both been re-elected to their positions as Mayor and Deputy Mayor of the Lachlan Shire Council.

Councillors voted at their September meeting held last Wednesday 17 September. Clr Manwaring defeated Clr Graham Scott in the ballot for mayor, while Clr Medcalf defeated Clr Dennis Brady.

These positions go up for election annually. Clr Manwaring of “Wylona”, Condobolin, has been on the council for 29 years and this is his ninth election as Mayor.

Clr Medcalf is a farmer from Tottenham and has been on the council since he was first elected in 1991.

Aboriginal Consultative Committee to resume

By Lara Pearce

In response to strong community support, the Lachlan Shire Council has announced that it will be re-activating the Aboriginal Consultative Committee from October this year.

The committee has not met since 19 June 2007 and Council resolved to suspend the committee that September due to low attendance at meetings.

Addressing this, General Manager of the Lachlan Shire Council, Liz Collyer, wrote in the Council’s latest business paper: “Aboriginal community representatives […] believe the previous Committee had difficulty in maintaining representatives to attend meetings as the content of the meetings had lost its purpose for community members.”

“For a re-activated Aboriginal Advisory Committee to be successful it must meet the needs of the communities it represents and Council must respect and genuinely acknowledge the feedback provided by the Committee.”

A draft framework for the committee has been developed, detailing its purpose and core values.

Two Councillors and the Council’s General Manager and Director of Community Services and Governance will be among the committee’s members, along with nine Aboriginal community representatives.

“The 2011 Census indicated that almost 17% of the total population of the Lachlan Shire identified as Aboriginal/Torres Strait Islander.” Ms Collyer wrote. “Whilst Council is working in collaboration with a number of Aboriginal organisations and individuals on a range of community and business matters, Council does not currently have a formal process in place of seeking the input and advice of our Aboriginal community members.”

The proposal involves a minimum of four meetings a year to be held at the Wiradjuri Study Centre.

Community members may express interest in committee membership from Monday 4 until Friday 29 August, according to the Council’s draft timeline.

A circle of achievement

The Wiradjuri Study Centre gardens were a fitting setting for the Lachlan Shire Council's NAIDOC Week celebrations last Wednesday.

• One of the Kalary dancers, Ngarra Williams, performs for the crowd at the Lachlan Shire Council’s NAIDOC celebrations. LP

By Lara Pearce

The Wiradjuri Study Centre gardens were a fitting setting for the Lachlan Shire Council’s NAIDOC Week celebrations last Wednesday.

Councillors, community members, students, teachers, and Indigenous elders sat in the large circular space to hear General Manager of the Shire, Liz Collyer, speak, see NAIDOC awards presented, and see Wiradjuri culture on display.

In a mark of unity and communal spirit, partner council Penrith City Council joined in the NAIDOC celebrations.

Awards were presented to a number of Indigenous locals for their contributions to the community, including Aboriginal elder Lois Goolagong, Joe Flick for his work overseeing the Knockout Health Challenge, a number of Indigenous teachers across the Lachlan Shire and the Wiradjuri Study Centre for its work uniting the community.

Penrith City Council Mayor Ross Fowler and local Mayor Des Manwaring joined in presenting the award recipients with their framed certificates. Clr Manwaring also presented the Mayor of Penrith with a woven artwork by local Wiradjuri artist, Bev Coe, as a gesture of friendship between the two councils.

Local Wiradjuri man Dick Richards and his granddaughter Danielle presented the Welcome to Country to the large crowd.

NAIDOC Week is a time to celebrate Indigenous culture and achievements, and as a mark of this, both the local Dindema dancers and the well-known Kalary dancers performed contemporary and traditional Wiradjuri dances.

Kalary dancer and didgeridoo player, Lewis Coe, and dancer Roy Peterson grew up in the Condobolin area, while fellow dancer Ngarra Williams calls the higher Lachlan region of Cowra home. After performing two dances for the crowd, they got many of the primary school students present on their feet and joining in as kangaroos and emus. “It wouldn’t be NAIDOC without you young people dancing,” said Mr Coe.

Ms Collyer wished the crowd a happy NAIDOC and assured them that Wiradjuri culture would continue to be celebrated throughout the year. “There are lots of reasons for celebrating Aboriginal culture, not just NAIDOC,” she said.

It’s here: Skate park opens to youth

The construction materials and fencing were scarcely packed onto the building trucks before young people began scootering, cycling and rolling in to Condobolin’s new skate park last week.

• Above and right: Condobolin’s newly opened skate park at Bill Hurley Park was packed last Wednesday with young people eager to try out their skills. LP

 

By Lara Pearce

The construction materials and fencing were scarcely packed onto the building trucks before young people began scootering, cycling and rolling in to Condobolin’s new skate park last week.

After over a decade of community debate, fundraising and planning, the skate park has been built in just two weeks – a week ahead of schedule.

The Lachlan Shire Council announced the project as complete last Tuesday 20 April and by the following afternoon children and teenagers were packed onto the site like tinned sardines.

A number of parents and small children gathered at Bill Hurley Park to watch as the young people tried their skills on the half pipe, got air on the wave pipe and even attempted to slide down the rails on their scooters.

While praising the site as a great, family-friendly spot for the youth, Condobolin Public School teacher Marion Packham said she would like to see more awareness of the safety issues surrounding the facility. She believes the children need to receive training on safe riding – such as use of helmets and knee and elbow pads and how to avoid collisions – and be taken through what to do in the case of a serious injury.

Acting General Manager of the Lachlan Shire Council, Andrew Johns, congratulated and thanked the community for helping the skate park to be realised, acknowledging the work of Council staff, former Councillor Marg Weale, Heather Blackley and the Skate Park Committee youth.

An official opening ceremony for the skate park will take place once the final landscaping and installation of a sprinkler system are complete.

“Devastating” cuts to Lachlan Shire Council

Local councils in New South Wales will be $288 million worse off under changes announced in the Federal Budget, with the Lachlan Shire and other rural communities predicted to be the hardest hit.

• Lachlan Shire Council Chambers on Molong Street. LP

By Lara Pearce

Local councils in New South Wales will be $288 million worse off under changes announced in the Federal Budget, with the Lachlan Shire and other rural communities predicted to be the hardest hit.

In the Federal Budget last Tuesday, Joe Hockey announced a three year freeze to Federal Government assistance grants to local councils. Rural and regional councils such as Condobolin will be most affected due to their heavy reliance on Federal Government assistance.

The Mayor of Lachlan Shire, Clr Des Manwaring, says he is disappointed with the decision. “Previously [the grant freezes] have only ever been for one year,” he said.

The Mayor noted that only around 25% of the Lachlan Shire Council’s income comes from ratepayers – a much smaller percentage than councils in major centres. “We’ve got a big area and not a lot of population,” he explained. “The Federal Government grants have been reducing in real terms by about 1% per year for the past 20 years, and these reductions will be about another 2.5%, and that doesn’t include inflation.”

“It just means we have got to tighten our belts a bit more. We’re battling to balance our books at the moment, so it will probably mean a reduction in services somewhere along the line.”

Local Government NSW President, Keith Rhoades, condemned the Federal Government’s measures. “A lot of smaller rural councils rely heavily on those Federal Grants. This is a devastating blow for them,” he said.

He also noted that the current system of council rate pegging left the councils with few places to turn.

In NSW, the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal determines the amount by which councils are allowed to increase their rates, and this increase often lags behind inflation. This means council rates can decrease in real terms each year.

“This rates increase is in no way going to make up for what was handed down in the budget,” he said.

The Federal Government has defended the cuts to local councils, instead touting the National Stronger Regions Fund as a major boost for regional communities. Under the scheme, over $1 billion of funds will go towards infrastructure in regional areas across Australia, in line with the Government’s pre-election promise.

“This funding will support priority projects which create jobs and support economic growth in regional Australia,” Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Develop Warren Truss said.

The 294 community projects currently being processed under the Community Development Grants program include $200,000 of funding for a skate park in Cobar, $4 million for a regional museum and cultural square in Orange and airport development in Parkes.

However, none of the projects currently under development in the scheme are in the Lachlan Shire.

Mayor, Clr Des Manwaring, said that councils in rural areas such as the Lachlan Shire had additional services they were expected to provide, without being allocated any additional funding.

“We have the most road of any council in New South Wales – 4,500km of road and no major highway. The only bit of road we don’t have to pay for is between [Condobolin] and Ootha,” he said.“We supply houses and cars for the doctors at the Medical Centre, and we provide the Medical Centre, which has been rent-free up until now. These are things we do to encourage doctors to our towns.”­­

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