Happy New Financial Year!

 

Message from the Shire President

Our June Council Meeting featured two welcomes: Lily Doran made her pledge to become an Australia Citizen and Anthony Smyth took his to become the Shire’s newest Councillor. I would like to congratulate both of them: Lily for affirming her commitment to this great country of ours and Cr Smyth for taking up this mantle and joining us in the rewarding – but also sometimes challenging – position as a Shire Councillor.

I also want to congratulate our many volunteers, who were acknowledged at our Thank A Volunteer Ceremony several days ago. I was unable to attend, but I thank Cr Robert Newton – our Deputy President – for standing in for me. Mingenew has a long and proud volunteering history. I learned that in his speech he referenced the volunteers who assisted in the aftermath of cyclone Hazel in 1979. I was reminded of this writing of my mother, Joan Newton, a former Shire Deputy President herself, following cyclone Hazel over 40 years ago:

It was a long day for most people in Mingenew on Wednesday, 14 March, 1979, for many had been up since 4 a.m.

First came a little wind – coming in short, strong gusts; then came the rain – just over an inch. At 6 a.m. the Cyclone really had us in its grip. The keening wind, a frightening sound, seemed to gather strength as it swirled into our normally quiet little town; leaving a trail of destruction in its wake, as it stormed from the north, through Wongoondy, down the Mullewa Road, to us.

Sheets of iron were hurled from the C.B.H. Wheat Bin and floated through the air like pieces of silver paper, electric light poles snapped like matchwood, and huge trees, some up to 40 and 50 years old, were torn up by the roots.

Families were evacuated from their houses; the ladies of the Red Cross worked all day supplying food and drink to those unfortunate enough to have lost their roofs, or their entire homes. There was no power. But everyone worked with a will. Shire employees and volunteers cleared the streets, covering houses without roofs with tarpaulins; farmers who themselves had suffered severe losses in the way of sheds, windmills, fences came into town to help others.

No-one would wish for another Cyclone, but we all hope that the marvelous spirit of neighbourliness that existed on 14 March, will live on in our town.

I think my mother would be glad to see that, 4 decades later, we still have a thriving volunteer culture and strong community spirit here in Mingenew.

Earlier in the month, I met with my regional counterparts at a WA Local Government Association Zone meeting. It was a good opportunity to hear about the challenges and opportunities facing others in our sector and identify ways that we can better work together with our neighbours to deliver for our communities. At the meeting WACHS gave a presentation on some of the changes they are making to try to deliver better regional mental health services in the Mid West. This is a common challenge for many towns in our region, and I look forward to their updated strategies being rolled out to the wider community to help to better deliver services to those who need them.

As we enjoy some wet weather, I would also encourage all our road users to make sure they drive to the conditions and stay safe on our roads. Travel, and movement of heavy vehicles, on wet unsealed roads is often unavoidable however this year we are calling upon people to try to limit movement on wet roads in an effort to preserve our assets and reduce the cost of road repairs which could be avoided.

– Cr Helen Newton, Shire President.

 

Corporate Planning and Budget

Our 4-year Corporate Business Plan and 2019/20 Budget are well and truly under development. Councillors held initial discussions on both documents in June and they will be further workshopped as we move towards a planned budget adoption at some stage in July.

As always, a key element of the Shire budget is our road program. We are developing a 5-year road plan to help to inform this budget, and those into the future. With our limited resources, we are aiming for a sensible position which sees important regular maintenance (slashing, spraying, grading and patching) coupled with more significant improvement works (resheeting, resealing and new construction).

You can expect to hear more about all of the above in the coming weeks and months.

Roads

While the recent (and hopefully ongoing) wet weather is excellent news for our farms and wildflowers, it can cause issues on our unsealed road network.

When you encounter a wet unsealed road, please ensure you drive to suit the situation; slow down and keep an eye out for changed road conditions. If possible, we ask that you try to restrict heavy vehicle movements until the road has dried out a little bit. Heavy traffic on wet dirt and gravel roads can chop the surface up, which then presents hazards to road users while the road is both wet and dry (and requires repairing).

The Shire will be closing roads or placing restrictions on them from time to time, we ask that these notices are observed for both your safety, as well as the preservation of our transport assets. They will be announced through our text messaging service, Facebook and the Shire website; if you haven’t already subscribed to our text message, please do so on our website here or at the Shire office.

If you come across a road which you believe needs to be closed, or notice another hazard (e.g. a fallen tree, dangerous washout) please contact the Shire on 9928 1102 to let us know. We have an after-hours service on this line, so you will be able to report issues 24/7.

In our Shire we have 300km of unsealed roads, and our ability to maintain and rapidly repair them is very limited. While we are actively working to increase our annual resheeting program, we will always have areas which are problematic. With your help, reporting issues, limiting heavy traffic on wet roads and driving to the conditions, we can reduce damage to them caused by wet conditions. What this means for you is that our roads will be safer, and we will be saving ratepayer and taxpayer money.

 Heavy Vehicle Access to CBH Facility

Informal discussions have been held with CBH and Main Roads regarding access to Mingenew’s CBH facility for heavy vehicles. This has come about as CBH undergo some long-term planning for the facility, and we seek to address some of the challenges presented by growing numbers of increasingly large trucks requiring access to CBH, as well as increased cartage of aglime and other products through and around Mingenew. These challenges include stacking distance issues at the rail crossing on Mingenew-Morawa Road, access difficulty when trains are outloading at the facility, and limited parking for large trucks around the facility and in town.

In the same way that CBH will be considering the future state of the facility several decades down the track, we need to do the same for the supporting infrastructure. Any likely solution to these issues will require some realignment of roads around the facility, and it is important that any significant changes consider the long-term future of our town as a whole. As these discussions continue, expect to see requests for community input and feedback so that any issues identified can be addressed and the long-term future of Mingenew is enhanced.

Council Meeting Review

The June meeting saw the swearing in of Cr Anthony Smyth, following his election at the June 7 Extraordinary Town Ward Election. Cr Smyth’s term will run through until the October 2021 Ordinary Election.

With the focus on budgets and planning, biosecurity also featured at this month’s meeting. Council discussed the introduction of a Recognised Biosecurity Group (RBG) being established by the West Midlands Group to cover an area of the Mid West, incorporating the Shire of Mingenew. RBGs operate – and are funded – separately to Local Governments, and have access to matched State Government funding to assist with the management of pest animals and plants. Council has endorsed the establishment of the group and will follow their development with interest. You can learn more about RBGs here and get specific information on the proposed Midlands Biosecurity Group here.

As always, minutes can be found on the Shire website are available here.

Tourism Update

Representatives from Council and the Tourist and Promotions Committee have been meeting with local businesses ahead of tourist season to try to work together more closely through the season. The Shire, for its part, will be rolling out a new campaign from July centred around the theme ‘Make Mingenew the Middle of your Wildflower Season’. This will be supported by digital and television advertising, as well as a prominent billboard near Dongara.

Through the closer collaboration with business and Tourist & Promotions, we are looking to ensure that the image that we advertise to the world reflects the experience that visitors have when they come to Mingenew.

We have also just launched our new Wildflower Season webpage. Check it out here.

Managing Mosquitos

As we move into the wetter part of the year, we will also start to see more mosquitos around. There are some simple steps everyone can take to try to control mosquitos and other unwanted pests in their yards:

  • Clean away debris, rubbish and other areas where water collects and stagnates
  • Prevent yards from getting overgrown
  • Tip out any standing water (in pots or other containers)

If you have done the above, but are still noticing lots of mosquitos please let the Shire know. We can then investigate the area and try to find a suitable treatment. In the first instance we will look to treat standing water to control mosquito larvae, but where these efforts are not successful, we may look to other methods like spraying or fogging for control.

The Shire will also be conducting town inspections to identify blocks which are overgrown or contain disused materials that may be serving as breeding grounds for mosquitos and other vermin. Should you require assistance clearing or slashing your block, or removing large items (like car bodies) please contact the Shire and we can provide private works assistance. You can also download the Private Works Request Form here.

Waste Management

Some time ago the Shire began the process of converting our landfill to a transfer station. The Shire recently completed the Environmental Management Plan for the facility, and will be commencing public consultation around the next step. As we make the transition, there will be changes (and we know that they will not be universally popular). They will likely include:

  • Reducing the hours that the tip is open
  • Restricting (and controlling) the type and volume of waste accepted
  • Charging to accept some waste types and/or introducing charges for those who are not Shire ratepayers
  • Manning the site to better monitor and manage this

Many of our neighbouring shires have already moved to a similar model, and this process will bring Mingenew in line with modern waste management approaches and current waste management legislation. In addition to the regulatory pressure which is making these changes necessary, we have also recently been receiving significant amounts of waste, like tyres, at the landfill. It is acknowledged that some of this is coming from outside the Shire, due to the fact that our tip is open 24/7 and free.  The current lack of a control mechanism means that it is going to be the Shire (and ratepayers) that are required to pay for these to be properly disposed of. By transitioning to a transfer station, we will be in a position to better manage situations like this.

Part of our consultation involves an online feedback survey, which we encourage all tip users to complete, it can be found here.

For more information, including our draft Environmental Management Plan, and a downloadable version of the survey, visit the Waste Management section on our Resources page here.

Big Ears

The Big Ears sculpture in Cecil Newton park has been deteriorating over time and is now becoming a little dangerous. Regrettably, the repair costs for the sculpture are very high, due to the material and specialist nature of the work. As a result, the sculpture will be dismantled and removed from the park in the near-medium term.

This won’t be the end of Big Ears though, there are plans afoot to reuse the stalks in future projects – so stay tuned.

Website and Communications

We have been updating our contact lists for our email and text message database. We have finalized our new lists, so if feel you are missing out on important text messages with Shire updates, please complete the ‘Community Register’ form at here, or simply come into the Shire office for a form.

Likewise, if you haven’t already, be sure to follow the Shire on Facebook for a range of regular updates. You can find us right here.

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