Year in Review: Part 3

Here we look at the months of September to December in our Year in Review.

September – Albury-Wodonga welcomes European Union ambassador

Linking Albury-Wodonga to European markets was the key theme for discussions between our Border’s Mayors and the Ambassador to Belgium, Luxembourg, the European Union and NATO during his visit to the Border.

Albury City Mayor Cr Kevin Mack and Wodonga Mayor Cr Anna Speedie met with Ambassador Justin Brown ahead of a visit by the ambassador to Mars Petcare.

Ambassador Brown spoke to the Mayors and council Chief Executive Officers as well as local businesses about the opportunities and benefits to the region under a future free trade agreement between Australia and the European Union.

Pending any final Brexit outcomes there were also potential opportunities to develop future trade agreements with the UK.

Cr Mack said there were strong opportunities for the region, which hosts a wide offering of type and size of industry, for exports and investment.

“This is an exciting opportunity for Albury-Wodonga and the wider region to open up markets in Europe,” Cr Mack said.

“Our strategic location, stable workforce and competitive land prices as well as our capacity to support growth and development makes Albury-Wodonga an attractive offering to international companies looking to expand into the Asia-Pacific market.”

Cr Speedie said the region was well-placed to provide a unique investment option to European markets.

“Our discussions with the Ambassador have widened the options for this region to secure the future of key sectors, ensure their sustainability and assist them to grow and prosper.”

Discussions included opportunities for agribusinesses, boutique farming and the benefits of present and emerging trade agreements for both exports into Europe and attracting European businesses to Australia to better access large scale Asian markets.

September – New festival for Border youth

Wodonga Council launched a new twilight youth festival aimed to engage young people in rich and authentic learning experiences.

Street Jam is a Two Cities One Community initiative that was developed as part of the Youth Empowerment Project (YEP) to create a festival style event that is organised and implemented by youth for youth.

Street Jam brings together sport and recreation, arts and culture, food, music and community to celebrate and reflect the diversity of our young people.

“The young people and the committees that are engaged in this project are excited that every aspect of this event has been dreamt up, organised and soon to be facilitated by them and their peers,” Wodonga Council Youth Development Co-ordinator Tim Roebuck said.

The event featured a 3-on-3 basketball competition, bands, artists and community art workshops.

October – Fridays on My Mind returned

Groove Resolution headlined the Fridays on My Mind event at Belvoir Park, bringing their brand of post-modern jukebox to Wodonga.

With members hailing from Albury, Melbourne and Wagga, Groove Resolution delivered a wide range of skills.

Local musician Hattie Evans warmed up the crowd for the evening.

Always offering loads of variety and activities for different ages and interests, the event featured two-minute caricature portraits, headdress and crown making, wine tasting from a regional winery and free shoulder massages.

The event was on the move for the 2019-20 season with Belvoir Park the first venue on the list and then it headed to Baranduda Reserve in November and will return on March 13 at Willow Park and then Junction Square on April 3.

October – Medieval Mastery heralds new entertainment for Children’s Fair

The world of Medieval Mastery highlighted this year’s Wodonga Children’s Fair on Sunday, October 27 at Wodonga Recreation and Racecourse.

Medieval Mastery showcased living history with Border group – The Shire of Bordescros – headlining the day with activities ranging from battles to calligraphy and craft activities.

Dressed in costumes suited to the time of knights, squires and scribes, Bordescros delighted young children with their tales of long ago.

Dane the Magician appeared throughout the day with some magical entertainment while flower and unicorn stiltwalkers roved the complex.

The animal nursery was back in action with a duck slide, Reptile Encounters and Hannah returned with her show Super Circus Squad.

October – Birallee Park cricket hub building works on track

Works were on schedule at the Birallee Park Indoor Cricket Training Facility.

The external framing as well as amenities, including the eight offices, have been completed. The plumbing and cables will be going in next.

The slab for the training facility went down in three stages with the roof structure and cladding to follow once the cement has cured.

Gabba Sporting Products will put in the synthetic wickets at the Birallee Park hub.

The company provided synthetic wickets for Kelly Park, Willow Park, Baranduda Reserve as well as other renowned facilities such as Junction Oval in Melbourne.

They have worked with several cricket associations such as Cricket NSW, Queensland Cricket, Cricket Victoria, Western Australian Cricket Association and the International Cricket Council.

Wodonga Council’s Sport and Recreation Officer Nigel Cunningham said the facility was on track to be opened in early 2020.

“The build is coming along nicely,” he said.

“We are pleased with how it’s progressing and expect it to be handed over early next year.”

The regional cricket hub will include an indoor training centre with four pitches, unisex player change rooms and office accommodation for staff and will enhance club competition and development of programs for players, coaches and umpires, while accommodating regional administrative needs of cricket.

The Victorian Government has contributed $500,000 with Cricket Australia and Cricket Victoria, Cricket NSW has contributed $50,000 and Albury City Council $150,000.

The council had earmarked $600,000 for the project and will allocate an additional $200,000 from savings in the present capital program and continue to work with the project partners.

November – Council offices set to reopen as library prepares for big move

Wodonga Council’s Hovell St offices reopened to the public on Monday, November 4.

Customer service staff relocated back to the main offices from their High St base at the close of business on Friday, November 1.

The move paved the way for Wodonga Library to move to the High St space where it will operate from for the duration of the library-gallery redevelopment.

The library will extend into the old sports store as well allowing it room to include areas for part of the book collection and public computers.

Works began at the end of 2018 to refurbish the ground floor following the opening of the new Council Chamber earlier in the year.

The Hovell St building is more than 40 years old and the refurbishment works have addressed age-related building defects and non-compliant building issues such as disability access, lift access, staff and public amenities.

November – Council’s new-look Hovell St offices reopen to the public

Wodonga Council’s new-look customer service centre and entrance to its Hovell St offices reopened to the public today.

Customer service staff have relocated from the temporary High St location and are now operation at the refurbished site.

The Hovell St building is more than 40 years old and the refurbishment works have addressed age-related building defects and non-compliant building issues such as disability access, lift access, staff and public amenities.

The works included the installation of a new lift at the entrance and the customer focus area updated to make the building more accessible and safer for staff and visitors.

The lift goes from the car park level to the second floor where North East Catchment Management Authority is located.

The lift meets accessibility standards for the community to access the public areas of the building, including customer service, public toilets and Council Chamber.

Wodonga Mayor Cr Anna Speedie said the council looked forward to welcoming and serving the community in the new-look customer service centre.

“By updating our existing building, we a providing a functional space with better public access that is compliant with today’s standards while ensuring we are providing a safe workplace for our staff,” she said.

The council’s customer service receives on average 25,000 counter visits each year in addition to 50,000 phone calls.

The return to Hovell St paves the way for Wodonga Library to move to the High St space and extend into the neighbouring former sports store.

Wodonga Library and Arts Space Wodonga will close the doors on Wednesday, November 13 with a farewell event.

The library will reopen on Wednesday, November 20 in High St.

The tender for the library-gallery redevelopment is due to be awarded before the end of the year.

November – Bonegilla reunion a success

The Discover Bonegilla annual reunion was a great success with more than 500 visitors attending on the November 2 and 3 weekend.

Despite the wet weekend, Bonegilla was a hub of activity with ex-residents, family members and people coming to Discover Bonegilla.

The event saw many groups reconnecting and sharing stories, making new friends and learning more about Bonegilla and our rich history.

Bonegilla Migrant Experience Team Leader Ashley Gill said the event helped many reconnect with their past and for many, further their family history research with the wonderful support of Bonegilla Migrant Experience volunteers.

“The Bonegilla Bus Tours, behind the Latchford Army fence line, were so popular we ended up hosting an additional two bus tours to accommodate the demand. A big thank you to the team at Latchford Barracks for allowing us to do so,” he said.

“We hope to be able to do this again.”

November – Program unveiled for cities’ newest festival

There’s more than 100 things to see, do and enjoy as part of the Border’s newest arts and cultural festival to be held next year.

Born under the banner of Two Cities One Community, Upstream embodies the theme of partnership which makes Albury-Wodonga unique.

Across four days there will be a host of activities which celebrate our rich art and cultural fabric and place a spotlight on creativity.

This inaugural event will feature diverse art forms in prominent central and natural public locations, bringing art to the people in unique settings.

AlburyCity Mayor Cr Kevin Mack and Wodonga Mayor Cr Anna Speedie launched the festival program at Noreuil Park within sight of the banks of the Murray River where the gala opening event will take place on the Friday night.

“Kicking off the festival on our beautiful foreshore with music, acrobatic feats, food trucks and an amazing laser show over the river will truly set the scene for the four day,” Cr Mack said.”

“The festival will alternate between the two cities over the festival and there is plenty of events in the lead-up as well.

“We have a fantastic arts and cultural industry here on the Border and this will be a great opportunity for local and visitors alike to experience it all including our public art trails and galleries.”

Wodonga Mayor Cr Anna Speedie encouraged the community invite their family and friends to visit and take part in all the festival has to offer.

December – Who’s it gonna hurt? named 2019 VicHealth Award Winner

Wodonga Council’s Who’s It Gonna Hurt was one of 12 winning Victorian organisations recognised for outstanding efforts to improve the health of communities right across Victoria at the 2019 VicHealth Awards.

The VicHealth Awards have been celebrating the outstanding achievements in health promotion for more than 20 years, with this year’s awards seeing a record number of nominees.

Who’s It Gonna Hurt campaign aimed to improve the drinking culture within male blue collar workers aged 33 to 55 years in Wodonga by improving physical and social environments.

Wodonga Council recognised the detrimental role alcohol played in incidents of personal injury, family violence, road trauma, crime and personal health and wellbeing in Wodonga.

The project Steering Committee agreed to focus the initiative on men aged 35 to 55 years who work in manufacturing, processing, construction and other similar areas.

Manager Community Planning and Well-being Claire Taylor said taking out a VicHealth Award for the preventing harm from alcohol category is a great honour and reinforces the importance of health promotion work in improving the health and wellbeing of Victorians.

December – Library gallery construction tender awarded

Zauner Construction will build the new Wodonga library gallery after winning the tender at the December council meeting.

Councillors unanimously passed the recommendation to award Zauner Construction the tender for the contract sum of $10,353,700 with a completion date of June, 30, 2021.

At Monday night’s meeting, Cr John Watson said it was exciting to have a new library and gallery constructed in the community.

“I am very happy to put this forward,” he said.

Cr Brian Mitchell agreed and added it was great to see a local contractor awarded.

“The most important thing in my mind, reading through this recommendation, is that we are going to award it to a local contractor who will in turn employ other local contractors and it’s a great thing for the city,” he said.

Cr Libby Hall also gave her support to the recommendation.

“The tenderer does have a good construction history in our region and they are local and so with this I will support the officers’ recommendation and look forward to the final outcome,” she said.

Cr Ron Mildren said the project was ‘absolutely wonderful’.

/Public Release. View in full here.