Cr SUSAN NICHOLS*
WELL, it’s hard to believe that the end of another year is upon us.
While we wind down for the year and enjoy all the wonderful things the season has to offer, I encourage everyone to approach the holidays with gratitude, to reflect, and be proud of what we have achieved.
As I look back over 2020, I am conscious that this generation has lived through a year like no other. It is a year where we, as a community found strength, perseverance and good old country spirit, and as your Mayor I am proud to call Wentworth Shire home.
In March, as the pandemic took hold Council closed its doors to the public and took an innovative approach to service delivery to ensure the continued operation of Council.
The library introduced a plethora of online programs, offered home delivery services and prepared activity packs for the children, our customer service staff honed their communications skills through telephone, email and social media and our roads, parks and gardens, water and sewer and health and planning departments learnt new ways to operate in a COVID safe environment. By July, our doors were again open for business.
We should celebrate the fact that we, as a community have remained COVID free and I congratulate residents, businesses and visitors for implementing and adhering to the ever-changing NSW Public Health Orders.
We have endured a lot throughout this year and I believe that we, as a Council and community have come out the other end a lot stronger. I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate our General Manager Ken Ross and his staff who have worked, under difficult circumstances to improve our infrastructure, enhance our facilities and lead our community through the COVID 19 pandemic.
During the year we have had a strong focus on delivering projects that benefit all communities across our Shire. With sound financial management and unprecedented government funding, Council progressed the;
• $9m upgrade of the Wentworth Aerodrome – works included the construction of a new runaway and redevelopment of the existing runway to a parallel taxiway.
• $627,000 upgrade of the existing Buronga Effluent Disposal Station (EDS). This facility was constructed over 30 years ago.
• $2,235,072 upgrade to the Gol Gol Water Treatment Plant.
Roads to Recovery Program funding to re-seal 1km of River Road, Coomealla, 1.2km of Pitman Ave, Gol Gol, 1.5km of Corbett Avenue, Buronga, 700m of Darling Street, Wentworth and 3.2kms of Delta Road, Curlwaa.
• Curlwaa Memorial Hall replacement which included a new car park.
• Barrett Pavilion replacement.
• Carramar Drive Oval lighting improvements.
• Buronga Riverfront enhancement including sporting trails and community recreational spaces.
This was also the year that…
• More than 8528 people visited our libraries,
• More than 12,343 borrowings from our libraries occurred,
• More than 26,233 people called our Council’s Customer Service Centres,
• More than 1850 border permit applications processed through our libraries,
• More than 6500 people visited our Visitor Information Centre, and
• More than 17,717 emails were received to council@wentworth.nsw.gov.au
We have a strong community and whilst the festive season is traditionally seen as a joyous time, let us remember that some members of our community may be alone, vulnerable and without close families or friends nearby.
I ask that you could find a way to reach out and include others over the holiday break.
It is also a time to express our gratitude to those who will spend Christmas away from the people they love because they are looking after others: those in our health and care services, our defence and emergency services and those who work with the vulnerable.
So, whether you are travelling near or far, please stay safe during your celebrations, and enjoy a time filled with family and friends.
On behalf of my fellow Councillors and the Council staff, I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a healthy and prosperous 2021.
* Cr Susan Nichols is Mayor, Wentworth Shire Council