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15 July 2020
By SARAH MATTHEWS
Wimmera, Mallee and Grampians communities are celebrating a $1.2-million State Government sporting infrastructure boost designed to ensure sustainability and stimulate jobs.
Ararat district, Hindmarsh and Horsham community groups were among big winners as Member for Western Victoria Jaala Pulford announced 2020-21 Local Sports Infrastructure Fund grants worth more than $30-million.
Ararat chief executive Tim Harrison welcomed $390,000 to upgrade Willaura Recreation Reserve, $115,353 for an automatic irrigation system and oval resurfacing at Mininera Recreation Reserve and $30,000 for an Ararat Fitness Centre feasibility study.
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Dr Harrison said recreation reserves were often the community and social hubs of small towns and it was fantastic to see the government recognise their importance.
“Both towns are rapt with the grant announcements as it means upgrades and updates to their facilities that would not have been possible otherwise,” he said.
Dr Harrison said the Willaura community in particular had been waiting for funding for ‘a long time’.
“The money will go towards female-friendly facilities and also doing up their other facilities, which will make a tremendous change to their rec reserve,” he said.
“At Mininera, the community has been waiting for some irrigation work to the footy oval, which will make a great improvement to the playing surface.”
Rainbow Recreation Reserve will also upgrade dated facilities, including building female-friendly change rooms, thanks to a $226,640 injection. Jeparit-Rainbow Football Netball Club president Jason Hutson said the club, along with a Rainbow Recreation Reserve committee, was thrilled to receive the money after two unsuccessful attempts.
“We’ve been knocked back for funding twice and we’ve partnered with the reserve committee to give us the best chance of success,” he said.
“Our current netball change rooms are outdated – they would have been good in the 70s. The funding will allow us to have user-friendly netball rooms for our teams and visitors, along with a first-aid area.
“The building will also act as a multipurpose facility for the caravan park.”
Mr Hutson thanked the government and Hindmarsh Shire Council, which along with the reserve user groups, is providing funding for the upgrade.
Hindmarsh mayor Rob Gersch said sporting clubs had been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic and the funding would give user groups confidence as they looked forward to ‘some form of normality’ in the future.
“Without this funding support, it is very difficult to improve the facilities and infrastructure required to retain and attract new participants or to increase participation levels,” he said.
The Rainbow project was one of two given the green light in Hindmarsh municipality, with Dimboola Bowling Club collecting $163,500 to fund several upgrades.
The project includes installing a synthetic surface to green B, an integrated ramp to improve access to the green and increased shade.
Club president Darryl Argall said the grant would be the club’s ‘saviour’ amid an ageing volunteer base.
“Green B is a grass green and requires a lot of work, about 10 to 15 hours a week,” he said.
“The average age of our club is 80 and it’s hard finding people to do the work – everything falls on about half a dozen volunteers.”
Mr Argall said the grant would allow the club to combine a few projects members had been working towards for several years.
“The council has been great and is contributing $30,000 to the project. Our club is contributing a bit over $50,000, so we’re talking about a $250,000 project,” he said.
“This money is the saviour of our club, that’s for sure. It’s good stuff.”
Horsham’s Coughlin Park Bowling Club will have two new synthetic greens thanks to a $250,000 slice of the fund.
Horsham Rural City Council has also picked up $30,000 for a regional multi-sport precinct feasibility study.
The entire July 15, 2020 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!