THE end of a year gives people the opportunity to look back at key moments.
As the new year approaches, Horsham Rural City councillors David Grimble, Mark Radford, John Robinson, Josh Koenig, Alethea Gulvin, Pam Clarke and Les Power reflect on the past year in council.
They have shared their most memorable projects of the year that was.
Councillor David Grimble
Cr Grimble said the council acknowledged the city’s transport needs, which was a step in the right direction.
“To get the acknowledgement of the need to alleviate our local transport needs and how we would do that should be our number one priority,” he said.
“To see our new chief executive Sunil Bhalla grasp the need to do that and strategically work through it was a good outcome.”
Another stand out moment for Cr Grimble was when the Horsham Regional Livestock Exchange reached the milestone of 10 million sheep sold in less than 20 years since moving to its current location.
After a decade-long push to fix the insufficient water supply for firefighting, Cr Grimble said the community south of Horsham had a big win with two water storage tanks installed.
Advocating for a fair rates system was a priority for Cr Grimble.
“It is frustrating but I enjoy understanding what the issues are and advocating hard on the issues raised,” he said.
“There is satisfaction as a councillor to understand the community’s issues and advocate for them.”
Cr Grimble has been a frequent participant in the Principal for the Day program, but has never had the chance to return to his former school until this year.
He said the experience was a highlight for the year because he was able to talk to the students about their schooling.
Councillor Alethea Gulvin
It was the smaller projects that gave Cr Gulvin the most satisfaction.
She has been a strong advocate for a cafe on the Wimmera River throughout the year.
The long-sought-after feature arrived just in time for summer when Blend on the Bank – a caravan converted to sell coffee, smoothies and tasty treats – rolled up on Barnes Boulevard.
“The best project I have seen is the river cafe,” Cr Gulvin said.
“It is an awesome asset for Horsham and if we can get a permanent building built in the future that will create an area for people to go and relax.”
Another highlight for Cr Gulvin was Horsham racecourse walking track upgrade.
She said the new lights improved the safety for the people who used the track.
Councillor Pam Clarke
Cr Clarke said the council started the year without a chief executive, but its decision to appoint Sunil Bhalla was the right one.
“Sunil Bhalla has been an amazing addition to the organisation. We wanted a fresh look into the organisation and that’s what he has done and that has been a highlight,” she said.
Cr Clarke was “thrilled” that the Kalkee Road Children’s and Community Hub was officially opened. She said it was pleasing to see that the children were thoroughly enjoying the space.
Similar to other councillors, Cr Clarke said the decision to form a rates review committee was a significant moment.
She was pleased to see community members with varying experience and skills review the council’s rates strategy.
Mayor Mark Radford
Cr Radford said an independent rates review committee was an “unusual” and “bold move" for the council. He said the committee was a first for the Horsham municipality.
“The committee will be guiding the way the community is rated in the next Budget and into the future,” he said.
He said the council’s decision to endorse the youth strategy was another highlight from the past year.
Cr Radford commended the council’s decision to appoint Sunil Bhalla as its new chief executive after Peter Brown resigned in 2017.
“Sunil has made some big observations and structural changes. It is important to go through that process to ensure the organisation is operated the best it can be,” he said.
Adopting the 2018-19 Budget was also a highlight for Cr Radford. He said it was an important step because it ensured the council was following its plan.
Councillor John Robinson
Cr Robinson said advocating on behalf of farmers for the exemption of building permits for farm sheds had been a main priority. He was pleased that farmers could build sheds without a permit, so long as they comply with requirements.
Another highlight for Cr Robinson was end of a “ten-year saga” for a firefighting dam at Mockinya.
Cr Robinson said the appointment of a new chief executive created an environment where the council could think strategically about long-term issues. This included a traffic bridge located west of Horsham, the river precinct and plans for a new sports facility.
Cr Robinson said the rural community had been “up-in-arms” about rates, but it was pleasing to see the council focus on creating benefits for those people carrying the burden.
Councillor Josh Koenig
Cr Koenig said the youth strategy has been his passion and was pleased the council endorsed the strategy.
Once again, Cr Koenig has talked to students in the municipality about his role as a councillor. He said this has been a memorable experience.
Cr Les Power was unavailable for comment.
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