Message from the Mayor: 24 March 2023

Published on 24 March 2023

Hi, I'm John Connors, the mayor of the Dungog Shire, bringing you this week's mayoral message.  

The library in Dungog is nearing completion, or the renovations and upgrades to it are, and it's hoped that it will be open certainly before the end of the month. It's been a quite extensive upgrade and renovation and it's increased the floor area and the facilities of the library quite significantly.  

The funding to carry out this work came initially from a $500,000 grant from the State Library of NSW under the Public Library Infrastructure Grant Program. Then we applied for $330,000 from the federal government, Local Roads and Community Infrastructure Grants, where we have freedom to apply those where Council thinks is appropriate. And then a further $250,000 from Council’s funds to bring the project to finality. 

Once the library is completed, then the sculpture ‘Theatre of the Shadow’, a work by Peter Tilley, will be installed outside the library. The location of that installation has been done in accordance with Council's resolution of some years ago now, where it is to be done in conjunction with the sculptor and Sculpture on the Farm, the donors of the sculpture. And that has occurred, both Peter Tilley and Sculpture on the Farm have agreed upon the site and the project manager will attend in due course to the installation of that work outside the library.  

So we're all looking forward to the new library, with its new spaces, with its new facilities, catering for all ages, and students and Ethernet users and the like. So be patient, it's coming.  

Unfortunately, in recent weeks, we've seen a spate of unsavoury Facebook post, and clearly Council wishes and would like to interact with the community via social media, but that requires that everybody respects the opinions of others and that they don't abuse the platform. They don't make or don't use offensive language or obscene or aggressive language.  

So, if you do, you'll be blocked. If you do your posts will be removed. And if you do it repeatedly, then you'll be blocked permanently from the from the platform. So please, we want social media interaction but it has to be done, obviously, in a appropriate and courteous way, courteous to all users.  

I mentioned earlier Sculpture on the Farm and the donation of Theatre of the Shadow, which will be installed outside the library. Sculpture on the Farm is occurring again this year in October. And entries open on the 1 April, in two weeks' time. So, those artistic types within the community, now's the time to plan your sculpture and get your entry into Sculpture on the Farm. 

During the week, the General Manager, the Manager Assets and Infrastructure and I met with Dungog Regional Tourism, or the chair of Dungog Regional Tourism, Cameron Archer. The purpose of that meeting was in part for him to bring us up to date on various grant funding that he has available but also to discuss signage throughout the shire. Over the past 12 months they've been working on signage, particularly on the Allyn River Road, where people regrettably proceed right up the top of the Allyn River Road, above the low-level river crossings and then it rains and they get caught there and they don't have ample food or fuel.  

So, the signage is intended to warn travellers that there isn't any fuel or food beyond East Gresford. There'll be signs erected, leaving East Gresford in the vicinity of the intersection with Bingleburra Road. And then further up in the vicinity of the intersection of Salisbury Gap Road. And it's hope that this signage will encourage people to be responsible and make them aware that they're going into an area where there aren't facilities, there aren't stores, there aren’t petrol supplies and the like. So, that should be rolled out very, very soon.  

There will be similar signs on Paterson River Road and elsewhere throughout the shire. But the focus initially was Allyn River Road and that was brought about because of issues that arose in the summer before last. 

This weekend, or this Saturday, sees the NSW state elections. Pre-polling is of course already open, and you can pre-poll in Dungog at the Doug Walters Pavilion. 

On Saturday, the Electoral Commission advise that polling places will be: 

  • Dungog Public School,  

  • the Gresford School of Arts, 

  • the Vacy School of Arts,  

  • Paterson Public School and 

  • Clarence Town Public School.  

So please remember that Saturday, you have to turn up to one of those centres and if you haven't pre-polled on the basis that you won't be around on Saturday.  

Throughout the past five years or there abouts, Council has received about $100 million in grants from the state government. These grants have facilitated the replacement of the timber bridges and there's a total of almost, I think a total of 30 bridges that have either been replaced, are being replaced or under contract to be replaced within the next 12 months.  

It's also provided funds for roadworks, and you might think the roads in great shape, well just imagine how much worse they would be if we hadn't received the monies that we have, including the most recent heavy patching money which has been rolled out week by week, day by day at the moment. And of course, the $25 million over five years money that has in part been rolled out but will continue to be rolled out as design work is completed for the various sections of roads throughout the shire that have been rehabilitated with those funds.  

So hopefully, we can look forward to a similar amount of money during the next five years. If we don't, then unfortunately, the infrastructure will deteriorate. Council has no resources with a rate base of only about 6000 people to maintain 721 kilometres of road and all the other infrastructure that exists within the shire, within the villages and the towns and in between the villages and the towns.  

So, exercise your right this Saturday and make sure you attend one of the polling places and cast your vote.  

With that, I think that's it for this week. And until next week, good luck, goodbye. 

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