REGION - I am proud to be able to start this column with news of another three awards for council across three very different areas.
We collected the 2013 Innovation and Collaboration in Procurement Award at the Procurement Australia Excellence Awards in partnership with Ararat Rural City Council and the Property Review Australia Heritage Property Award for our Western Highway Office Restoration Project at the 2013 Australian Property Institute, Excellence in Property Awards.
Our Youth Action Council (YAC) was successful in obtaining one of only nine 2013 FRRR ABC Heywire Youth Innovation Grants that were given out across Australia, with their project 'The Green Room - Improving Mental Health Literacy' the only one selected to be funded in Victoria.
This is a huge achievement for our YAC which only formed in April of this year and we look forward to seeing that project develop.
Congratulations to Meg Newton (customer service) and William Kolak (works) who were both finalists in the WorkCo Trainee and Apprentice of the Year awards which were held at Longerenong College on Friday night. It is great to see people who are undertaking training with council being identified as being among the top staff in the region.
Following the announcement that council is going to develop a new residential housing allotment, we have already received interest in this proposed public/private partnership arrangement.
While it is very early and it will be some time before we see the land developed to the point that building will commence, it is a great opportunity for locals who are familiar with the area and the magnificent views that this land offers and for others who will become aware of the proposal to take the opportunity to invest and relocate to Stawell.
As my time as Mayor winds down it seems that someone wants to wind the spring even tighter. On very short notice from the Victorian Government comes the opportunity to join with 140 other delegates on a Super Trade Mission to China. This is the opportunity of a lifetime personally, but more importantly is the importance of looking for new marketing and investment opportunities.
It was pleasing and rewarding for businesses to have the Rotary Club hold their convention in Stawell, bringing business to accommodation, food outlets, service stations and tourism providers. I trust that those who made their way here had an enjoyable time and experienced true hospitality from the locals.
On Friday Mr Graeme and Mrs Barbara Bennett launched their book "The Stawell Woollen Mills: A History of the Woollen Mills". The Bennett Family was largely responsible for making the woollen mills the success that it was, but unfortunately between technology and overseas production, the woollen mill does not enjoy the same number of employees as it once did.
This is to the detriment of the community, particularly when we saw how many employees attended the launch and heard from so many about the number of years of continuous service that they invested in the company. All spoke of their enjoyment of their job and their respect for the people who owned and operated the mill.
As Australia potentially loses its place in the manufacturing world, there is one thing that cannot change. We have the land for food production. We have the natural features of coastline and mountains to market to the world. As Victoria's population ages, just as the shire's does, we need to look for new opportunities. Recently Eventide Homes opened the Warne Wing, bolstering the aged care industry in our shire.
We must market ourselves to the overcrowded and expensive cities and regional centres, sell the benefits of being in a small country town - no traffic lights, no trams, no traffic jams. Sell a house in Melbourne for $500,000 plus and then buy and relocate to the Northern Grampians for under $300,000. Bank the balance and enjoy the lifestyle!