Minister Rudd to open study centre amidst DA controversy

WCC project management team: Reginal Saddler, Rebecca Merritt, Donna Johnson, Neil Ingram and John Spencer. DGBy Dominic Geiger

Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd has confirmed he will officially open the Wiradjuri Study Centre in Condobolin on September 27.

C.E.O of Wiradjuri Condobolin Corporation (WCC), Percy Knight, said Mr Rudd had been chosen as a result of the former PM’s apology to the stolen generation in 2008.

“In that speech he mentioned a new beginning for all Australians,” Percy said.

“He mentioned that phrase three or four times, and that’s what we’ve been trying to achieve with the study centre since 2003.

“The WSC makes a statement about this new beginning and about the stolen generation and says let’s now move forward; let’s make sure that never happens again.

“The study centre takes into consideration how we as Aboriginal people see things and how we learn; it’s a learning centre first and foremost, but it’s also a cultural centre.

“With it, we’re closing the gaps on employment opportunities on a local level.”

Percy said there had been some initial concerns Mr Rudd wouldn’t be able to attend the ceremony given his recent heart operation, but since his recovery the green light had been given for the minister’s visit.

“Of course he could also be called overseas, given his high profile, but we’re going to take a gamble on it,” he said.

Despite a date having been set for the official opening of the centre, WCC is yet to meet all the criteria for the Lachlan Shire Council (LSC) imposed development application on the building.

As such, WCC is yet to be granted full occupancy of the building and is currently occupying the building as a management team.

General Manager of the Lachlan Shire Council, George Cowan, said council was working with the management of WCC to resolve the issue.

“These issues have been ongoing throughout the course of the buildings construction,” he said.

“Council is hopeful these matters can be addressed and the building can be put to use, though these are not insignificant issues.”

Percy said the bureaucratic arm of LSC had been needlessly picky in its scrutinising of the development application.

“I have no problem with the councillors, however the bureaucratic element of the council has been very needlessly pedantic with its due diligence,” he said.

“We are doing our best to deal with these issues, though we feel these issues are not OH&S.

“I have said that if the council continues to be pedantic there is a mood within Wiradjuri people that this day could be a day of celebration or a day of protest.”

Flo Grant, from the Wiradjuri Council of Elders, said it was very exciting to see something which had come from nothing bloom into fruition.

“I’ve been there from the beginning, watching people make their own bricks and build with them; it’s been quite exciting,” she said.

“There are, however, a few issues, mostly from the bureaucratic side, affecting the project.

“We do not accept people not giving back what belongs to us.

“This centre has been independently earned; it’s ours and we’re not going to let it go.”

RFS cadets recognised at high school ceremony

Condobolin High School RFS cadets with their mentors. DG

By Dominic Geiger

Nine Condobolin High School students have been recognised for their completion of a Rural Fire Service (RFS) cadetship training course at a special ceremony held at the high school last Monday.

During the ceremony, the cadets demonstrated their recently acquired skills in a mock car accident and grass fire training exercise.

Learning Development Officer with the RFS, Warwick Parker, said the most important thing the cadets had learned throughout their training was teamwork.

“They found the teamwork side of things a bit difficult when they first started, though once they got the hang of that. they’ve been doing great,” he said.

“They’ve also been learning skills using the hoses, how to fight fires, truck skills and some basic first aid.

“It’s a good thing for the school and a great way to promote the RFS to the community and that’s how the cadets program is supposed to work.”

RFS Cadet, Mitchell Deeves, said he was surprised how much he’d learnt over the course of the training program.

“It was great, we learnt so much,” he said.

“The other thing is, that none of us were friends before we started the program but we get along really well with each other now.”

The Mayor of the Lachlan Shire, Des Manwaring, presented the cadets with their certificates.

“This is a great program, it’s volunteering at its best,” Des said.

“The RFS is having trouble getting volunteers, so I hope these young people will continue to be a part of and support this fantastic organisation.”

New action on tennis courts

Lachlan Shire crews have started lifting the old synthetic surface on two courts at the Condobolin Tennis Club on Melrose Road.

A problem had developed with mould developing in the matting which turned black.

The joint venture between the Lachlan Shire and the Condobolin Tennis Club will see the two courts recovered with synthetic grass. Surface preparation began last Monday and the surfacing contractor is due next week.

Kevin Smith Director Technical Services said, “This is a great project being undertaken by Council and the Tennis Club – it will provide the community with two high grade tennis courts.”

Willow Bend at risk of flood devastation

CEO of the Condobolin Aboriginal Land Council, Rebecca Shepherd, surveys Willow Bend's broken flood gates and substandard levee while a concerned village resident looks on.

By Dominic Geiger

Revelations Willow Bend Village’s levee bank is at least one metre too low to protect the community in the event of a serious flood have emerged following last Wednesday’s council meeting.

It has also been revealed one of the community’s flood gates has fallen into the river while the other one is in a state of serious disrepair.

Despite having recently passed a motion to participate in the Aboriginal Communities Water and Sewerage Program for Willow Bend Village, administered by the NSW Office of Water, Lachlan Shire Council (LSC) is not responsible for the water services provided at Willow Bend.

“[These issues] are the Willow Bend Aboriginal community’s responsibility, as it is privately owned, [however] the shire has been trying to aid the community as much as possible in their attempt to acquire funding for the project,” Director for Technical Services at LSC Kevin Smith said.

CEO for the Condobolin Local Aboriginal Land Council (CLALC), Rebecca Shepherd, said the estimated cost of raising the kilometre long levee and replacing the flood gates was somewhere in the region of $800,000.

“The CLALC is confident the NSW Office of Water will contribute towards some of the funding, however we are unsure where the remainder will come from at this stage,” she said.

“During last year’s floods we were forced to sandbag the area to protect everyone who lives in the village.

“Since then, the NSW SES has conducted priority rankings of the most flood prone Aboriginal communities in NSW, with Willow Bend coming in at number two.”

Rebecca said in the event of a significant flood the community would be forced to evacuate.

“We have lots of elderly people and little children living here, so it would be difficult in an emergency,” she said.

“Because the shire is integrated into the whole process, they have been really supportive.

“Hopefully someone might help to sponsor those repairs which won’t be funded by the NSW Office of Water.

“It could be an opportunity for any major companies looking at setting up in Condobolin and working with the local community.”

A new way of promoting events in the Lachlan Shire

The Lachlan Shire has recently installed two new  event banner poles in Bathurst Street Condobolin.  By Dominic Geiger

Communities of the Lachlan Shire will now be able to promote up and coming events with ease thanks to the construction of two new event banner poles on Bathurst Street in Condobolin.

Two similar projects are also planned for both Lake Cargelligo and Tottenham, however consultation still needs to take place between senior Lachlan Shire staff and members of the two communities before construction begins.

Event banners in Condobolin were previously strung from the Royal Hotel and connected to Retravision across the street, however the potential risk of damage to the buildings and public safety concerns after the ‘Condo 750’ sign fell down earlier this year prompted council to reconsider how local events were promoted.

The new poles, which rival the Miles Ahead building in height, have been erected on the western side of Bathurst Street near the Shell service station.

Lachlan Shire General Manager, George Cowan, said the shire had a history of supporting major local events and the construction of the banner poles would help groups promote their events more easily.

“We’ve been talking about the need for something like this for three years now,” he said.

“The decision to construct the poles is primarily a public safety thing.

“Any community groups who wish to have their events advertised in the main street are encouraged to contact the Lachlan Shire offices directly.”

The shire had originally announced one of the garden beds on the main street would be moved to make room for the poles however due to “underground services” this will now no longer be the case.

Last chance to sign skatepark survey

Members of the skatepark committee are eagerly awaiting the announcement of where the park will be built.Compiled by Dominic Geiger

Condobolin residents have just one and a half weeks left to voice their opinions on where the proposed skatepark should be built.

Survey forms outlining the nine sites under consideration have been forwarded to residents and further forms are available at the council offices and on the web site.

The Deadline for returning the form is July 31, 2011.

Councillor Marg Weale said it was important people marked their preferences on the surveys to give council a full understanding of public opinion on where the park should be built.

“It’s also important for people to list the reasons why they’ve listed certain sites as less preferable,” she said.

“I think it’s very important to get the site right from a community perspective, but it’s also important to remember that no matter what, the end result isn’t always going to sit well with everyone.”

Lachlan Shire Mayor, Des Manwaring, said he encouraged as many people as possible to have their say on where the park should be built.

“Council will be considering the submissions in early August,” he said.

The forms point out the relative benefits of each site and the issues to be considered in selecting a site.

“At the moment we only have 76 forms returned and it really is important that people take the opportunity to have their say and guide Council on selecting the preferred location for the park”

The nine sites include Memorial Park, Smythe Park, Wellington Square, the SRA grounds, Hurley Park and the Wiradjuri Study Centre site.

Some sites have more than one option.

“All sites have been pegged and residents can see where the skate park would go if that site was selected.”

“This is a major investment by the Council and we would like to make sure that wherever it goes we have the backing of the community” Des said.

Korean Government Officials Visit the Lachlan Shire

Lachlan Shire Council will host two senior Korean Government officials from 18 – 21 July as part of an 18 – 24 month stay in Australia with Penrith City Council.

The visit to the Lachlan Shire came about due to the sister city relationships between Lachlan Shire Council and Penrith City Council.

Jill Turner [Penrith City Council Liaison Officer who looks after sister cities and international relationships] said the visit to the Lachlan Shire was an opportunity for the Korean officials to see how a rural Council functions in comparison to a Council in the city such as Penrith.

“The hosting of the Korean Officials by Penrith City Council was a result of the Council’s relationship with the Sydney office of the Local Government branch of the Korean Government.”

“It is wonderful to be able to provide the officials with such a diverse experience of how Local Government works in Australia.”

“Mr Jung arrived last July and his area of research interest is Australian Local Government, and its funding and devolution from the Federal government.  Mr Pan arrived in November and his area of research is telecommunications policy and NBN,” said Ms Turner.

The officials arrived in the Lachlan Shire on Monday night and were welcomed at a dinner with Mayor of Lachlan Shire and other local Councillors. Tuesday’s itinerary will see the officials visit Lake Cargelligo and meet with local business houses followed by a tour of the local area. On Wednesday the officials will attend the Lachlan Shire Council meeting in Condobolin followed by a tour of the local area.

Bells Line Expressway campaign shifts up a gear

By Dominic Geiger

The Mayor of the Lachlan Shire, Des Manwaring, has recently added his support to the campaign to construct an expressway on the Bells Line of Road between Lithgow and Sydney.

The road, which was listed as NSW’s most dangerous road earlier this year, is one of the most popular routes for people travelling from the Lachlan Shire to Sydney.

Des said the construction must start by 2015 if Government is to adequately manage future economic and population growth in Sydney and in the Central Western region.

“There is renewed urgency to start construction of the Bells Line Expressway by 2015 to accommodate future population, agriculture and transport trends,” Des said.

“The Bells Group and the Western Research Institute have compiled new and updated data that clearly shows why the Expressway must commence by 2015 and the benefits it will bring to local communities such as Condobolin and the whole of Lachlan Shire.”

Despite this, the project has drawn criticism from environmental groups in the region.

Keith Muir, Director of the Colong Foundation for Wilderness, said the enormous amount of environmental feasibility studies, property acquisition, and construction work required for the proposed highway meant it would not be economically productive.

“It will [also] create a massive swath of destruction through the World Heritage Blue Mountains; it’s a ridiculous idea,” he said.

Bells Line Expressway chairperson, Ian Armstrong, dismissed these claims, saying that as costing had not yet been done on the studies, it was impossible to predict what they would eventually amount to.

“Anyone trying to talk about project costing can not have a base of knowledge to go off,” he said.

“Firstly, If Sydney’s population growth us is to expand as projected, Sydney will have to spill west over the mountains.

“Sydney can not go north, south or east; it must go west.

“Secondly, [Studies] have listed the Bells Line of Road as the route that will achieve this with the least amount of environmental impact.”

“Bells Line of Road is the most dangerous road in NSW by twelve percent, it is essential we have a safe route over the mountains.”


Council to replace water filtration plant

The Condobolin water treatment plant located on the Parkes Road. DG

By Dominic Geiger

Lachlan Shire Council has recently announced it will be either replacing or performing significant upgrades to the Condobolin water filtration plant.

The decision follows considerable community complaint regarding the ongoing poor taste and smell of council supplied town water.

In early February, a Lachlan Shire Council spokesperson told The Condobolin Argus the bad taste and smell of the water was “due to the [recent] flooding,” and it “should improve in coming weeks.”

Speaking after last week’s shire council meeting, Director of Technical Services at the council, Kevin Smith, said the filtration plant would see its renewal date of 2015/16 moved forward significantly.

“Council has made the decision to upgrade the filtration plant as a result of the poor quality of drinking water currently being distributed in Condobolin,” he said.

According to the book, ‘Condobolin, Where The Lachlan flows,’ the Condobolin water filtration plant, which currently stands on the Parkes Road, was built in 1941.

“The current plant does not have the ability to provide further treatment for the water we’ve been providing to the town,” Kevin said.

“Council needs to [perform an upgrade] in order to improve water quality.”

The plant will either be upgraded at its current location or completely replaced and moved to an as yet undecided site.

Jessica Do, who is currently in Condobolin on work experience from Wagga Wagga, said she had found a marked difference in the quality of water between the two towns.

“The first night I was here, I just didn’t drink any water even though I was thirsty; it’s that bad,” she said.

“I tried to boil it to get rid of the taste, but that didn’t work so I mask the taste with coffee or tea now.”

Condobolin resident, Ashleigh Marsden-Smedley, said the poor quality of the water had driven her to purchase her own home filtration jug.

“The [filtration jug] does make the water taste better, but it’s still not great,” she said.

“When we’ve gone to Orange we’ve noticed the water tastes better there.”

Barrie’s next chapter

Barrie Toms and LSC Mayor Des Manwaring. DGBy Dominic Geiger

Long time public servant Barrie Toms is hanging up his boots after 33 years working for the Lachlan Shire Council.

Beginning work as a health and building surveyor at the Lachlan Shire way back in 1978, Barry said he didn’t always imagine he’d still be working for council over three decades later.

“I came here as a young bloke looking to move further with my career,” he said.

“I soon found Council had benefits to offer both me and my family.

Most recently attaining the position of manager of assets and projects, Barrie has been instrumental in the completion of multiple building projects throughout the shire.

Mayor of the Lachlan Shire, Des Manwaring, said he was incredibly grateful for the work Barrie had done for council.

“Barrie’s been involved in a lot of projects including the Burcher Hall renovations, works at the Condobolin Community Centre, the Old Shire Hall, Tullibigeal Hall and the Tottenham Kiosk, just to name a few,” he said.

“When things have been a bit tough, Barrie’s taken things on his shoulders.

“His knowledge and experience have allowed us to move forward with so many council initiatives and we’re going to miss that.”

As a token of council’s appreciation for Barrie’s lifetime of work, Des presented Barrie with a small gift.

Barrie said he had decided to retire a bit earlier than most other people because he wanted to be able to do the things he truly enjoys in his retirement.

“I wanted to retire before I get too old and I’m not able to do the things I love anymore,” he said.

Funding for flood damage in LSC

Lachlan Shire Council has received a total of $4.97 million as a result of the RTA’s flood levy.

The money will be spent mostly on the worst affected roads of the Lachlan Shire, including those near Fifield, Tottenham and Lake Cargelligo.

Director of Technical Services, Kevin Smith, said Lachlan Shire Council had been incredibly successful in applying for the flood damage grant when compared to other NSW shires.

“We applied for funding as a result of two events; the floods in December in 2010 and a storm in March 2011,” he said.

“In total we applied for $6.1 million and received approximately 80%.

“Most other councils only received around 60% of the amount they applied for.”

Kevin said the RTA ultimately had the power to decide which roads were most damaged.

“When the storms and floods occurred, [shire] staff were notified to damaged roads by residents,” he said.

“Most of the damage occurred around Tottenham and Lake Cargelligo, though Condobolin also experienced some damage.

“We are now waiting to receive the details on which roads have been approved for the grant.”

Pipe dream becomes reality

The Merri Abba pipeline will ensure an emergency water supply for Lake Cargelligo in times of drought. Photo Gus BlackerBy Dominic Geiger

Construction on the long awaited Merri Abba water pipeline project is set to begin in the next few weeks following Lachlan Shire Council’s approval of a tender offer from Mitchell Water Australia pty ltd.

The project, which will guarantee an emergency supply of water for residents of Lake Cargelligo, Murrin Bridge and Tullibigeal, was approved for the tender amount of $12,760,393.

Director of Technical Services at the Lachlan Shire Council, Kevin Smith, said the project would cause minimal disturbances to local residents while it was underway.

“There will be 31 kilometres of high voltage electricity line and 300 millimetre diameter pipeline laid within the Hillston Road reserve over a period of several months, however appropriate traffic control will be in place during this time,” he said.

“We estimate the pipeline will be completed in early 2012.”

General Manager of the Lachlan Shire, George Cowan, said the project was critical for preserving a water supply for the Lake Cargelligo community.

“While there is water in Lake Cargelligo at the moment, and water systems are performing very effectively, it was only 18 months ago that the lake was dry and a water supply was in jeopardy,” he said.

“This project will guarantee water for the community and that security will allow for growth to occur in local businesses.”

Rate rise for LSC

By Dominic Geiger

Lachlan Shire Council has announced a general rates rise of 2.8% in this year’s Draft Management Plan.
2.8% is the maximum allowable rates increase for any council in NSW.
An information sheet, titled ‘Comments from the Mayor and General Manager’, sited the increasing cost of water, sewerage and domestic waste management as the reason for the rates increase.
The information sheet also mentioned the fact that council had “been able to generate significant savings in the cost of updating management systems for water, sewerage, risk management and internal audit by working through Central NSW Councils (Centroc).”
An occupied house in Condobolin will see an increase from $255 to $274 in domestic waste management.
Water availability charges will increase from $250 and $265 with consumption under 450 kl increasing from $1.40 to $1.60 and consumption over 450kl increasing from $2.25 to $2.50.
Sewerage charges will increase from $386 to $410.

Mixed response to budget in LSC towns

By Dominic Geiger

The smallest towns of the Lachlan Shire have been the most vocal in their response to council’s budget in a series of public Draft Management Plan meetings over the past week.
Not breaking with tradition, Condobolin recorded the lowest attendees at its public meeting last Wednesday evening with a total of zero non councillors appearing at the council chambers to discuss the budget.
Leading the shire with the highest number of public attendees were Fifield and Tottenham, with 15 people each.
Tullibigeal was close behind, with 14 members of the public attending its Draft Management Plan meeting.
Lake Cargelligo and Burcher were at the lower end of the list, with ten and four attendees respectively.
Mayor of the Lachlan Shire, Des Manwaring, said he wasn’t surprised the meetings in the smaller towns had attracted more visitors than in Condobolin.
“It’s just always been the case,” he said.
“The smaller towns suffer from a few road problems and that brought people out, whereas in Condobolin (the roads aren’t) such an issue unless you go to the outskirts.
“In Lake Cargelligo the Merri Abba pipeline brought a few people out, as did the airport project in Tottenham.
“But roads were definitely the major issue in Fifield and Tullibigeal.”

Centroc meets in Condobolin

By Dominic Geiger

Central NSW Councils (Centroc) held a planning session meeting at the Lachlan Shire Council Chambers in Condobolin last Thursday.
Centroc is an organisation designed to provide greater lobbying power for the individual councils within the Central West region of NSW.
Chair of Centroc, Phyllis Miller, said the aim of the meeting was to discuss where the organisation was at as far as setting priorities for the coming year.
Topics which took prominence at the meeting included local tourism, health and water security.
“The Mayor of Lachlan Shire, Des Manwaring, was concerned about the lack of ‘in river’ water storage in times of drought,” Councillor Miller said.
“The Condobolin west weir project was discussed and we will be trying to assist Councillor Manwaring in achieving (the project).”
Councillor Miller said Centroc had discussed Tourism NSW’s decision to amalgamate the regions of Central West, New England and part of Western NSW into one singular tourist region, called ‘Country NSW’.
“Centroc is not of the view there will be benefits from this,” she said.
“We were also concerned about the rushed timelines (associated with the decision).”
Councillor Miller also said Centroc was concerned about the recently establish Western NSW Medicare Local.
“The area is far too big, so Centroc has made representation to have that area brought down by a bit,” she said.
“The local has been taken out by the enormity of the region’s size.
“Greater Western Area Health couldn’t work, so why would this work?”
Councillor Miller said the Mayor of the Weddin Shire, Maurice Simpson, had been particularly concerned about the lack of a doctor in Grenfell.
“He has said there is a real opportunity for a doctor (in the town),” she said.
“Centroc will aide him to find a doctor in any way we can.”

Sixth potential site announced for Condobolin Skatepark

By Dominic Geiger

Lachlan Shire Council has temporarily suspended the public consultation process for the proposed skatepark development in Condobolin following the announcement of a sixth potential site at the Wiradjuri Study Centre.
The skatepark project, which has seen numerous delays since its inception over ten years ago, will be put on hiatus until council can liaise with the CEO of Wiradjuri Condobolin Corporation (WCC), Percy Knight, in regards to building the park on study centre grounds.
General Manager of the Lachlan Shire, George Cowan, said a report from the consultation process with Percy would be brought to the June council meeting.
“Council (will then) determine whether the new site will be added to the other five for community consultation,” he said.
“I will be meeting with Percy sometime this week to discuss the matter further.”
Percy said he was “open minded” about the possibility of a skatepark being built on study centre grounds.
“I’m certainly prepared to talk to council about (the project),” he said.
“If the skatepark is to go ahead it will require amendments to the development application, but that’s just part of due process.”
Percy also said he was considering the possibility of building an internet cafe on study centre grounds to offer an additional place for young people to socialise.
“Establishing a supervised net cafe would offer something for the kids who aren’t interested in the skatepark,” he said.
“We would provide computers and internet but of course the cafe would have to be managed properly.
“We need to be really strategic and proactive about these projects; they need to be managed in a cooperative and collaborative way, but all those issues can be worked out.”

New tree planting scheme for Lachlan Shire

By Dominic Geiger

Lachlan Shire Council is planning to create a program to replace dead or obstructive trees on the various main streets around the shire with a selection of uniform species on each street.
The decision to create themed streets comes as a result of last week’s council meeting where it was revealed council had not been replacing trees that had been removed for safety reasons.
Councillor Peter Harris said it was not excusable for council to simply rip out trees around town and not replace them.
“We’re living on the edge of the desert and we keep (removing trees),” he said.
Mayor of Lachlan Shire, Des Manwaring, said all street trees in the shire were meant to be replaced with a suitable species after they were removed.
“Apparently this hasn’t been happening,” he said.
“There will now be an investigation into the suitability of various species.
“We will also be investigating whether it’s possible to plant trees further in to the road as many streets in the shire are very wide and this would mean they would cause less disruption to the footpath while providing more shade for cars.”
Director of Technical Services at Lachlan Shire Council, Kevin Smith, said council would now consult with the local community to determine what species could be used.
“The creation of a theme for the trees on the various streets in the shire will take place over many years,” he said.
“Council will look at each of the main streets and determine which trees are near the end of their lives and replace them”.

West weir on agenda again in Condobolin

By Dominic Geiger

The Lachlan Shire Council is calling on interested community members to join the ‘Condobolin West Weir Committee’, following the passing of a motion to establish the group at last week’s council meeting.
The committee, which will be comprised of members of the public and various councillors, will aim to finally have a weir built on the Lachlan River to the west of Condobolin.
Lachlan Shire Councillor, Les Saunders, said although the weir was first suggested in 1986, he felt as though there was now enough support within the Lachlan Valley to see the project through to completion.
“There was a recent meeting with the Lachlan Valley Customer Service Committee at the Condobolin Agricultural Station that I attended as a councillor and the majority of people there supported the weir,” he said.
“The meeting was made up of people from all up and down the river and it was that committee who recommended the Lachlan Shire Council aim to form a similar committee.”
Les said the advantages of constructing the weir would be numerous.
“If we had the weir, irrigators could order water today and have it within two days time,” he said.
“It would also guarantee Condobolin’s water supply.
“Anyone who’s going to benefit from this project should join the committee.”
Mayor of the Lachlan Shire, Des Manwaring, said the weir would be a good alternative to securing the town’s water supply as opposed to drilling more bores.
“The weir would give the town in-river storage,” he said.
“It’s still early days yet however; we’ve only had the suggestion to form a committee.”

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