OVER the past six weeks, The Weekly Times has shone its spotlight on six projects that must be fixed.
The authorities now have 12 months to do so – and we’ll be watching them.
Throughout 2013 we will provide regular updates on how each project has progressed. And at the end of the year we will deliver a final report card.
SALE SPECIALIST SCHOOL
OVERCROWDING has forced the school to roster outside play times and install a shipping container on the front lawn for extra storage.
Opened in 1985 for 15 students, the school now has 75 enrolments – including 32 at a temporary campus set up five years ago inside the grounds of a local high school. The main campus has 43 students, with just 25 sq m of grass in its outdoor play area.
Parents of prospective students have refused to send their children to the school due to the cramped facilities, including classrooms so small that students in wheelchairs have trouble moving around.
WIMMERA WEATHER RADAR
FARMERS are driving a push for a new Bureau of Meteorology radar site to improve weather services for the Wimmera and southern Mallee.
The region is the only part of Victoria not serviced by a local radar. Data is currently provided by part-time radar stations at Mildura and Mt Gambier in South Australia, but accuracy is poor.
Farmers say the radar “black hole’’ is putting them at a competitive disadvantage in global markets, with weather information crucial for agriculture – which accounts for 35 per cent of the region’s exports.
BLACKWOOD SEWERAGE SCHEME
THE tiny Central Highlands town was slated to be sewered seven years ago as part of the Victorian Government’s Country Towns Sewerage Project.
After being put to tender, the plan was rejected by the EPA as it ruled the expected nutrient levels of treated wastewater were too high to be returned to the “pristine’’ Lerderderg River.
Blackwood is in a potable water catchment area for Western Water.
The EPA’s ruling has left residents with worthless blocks of land – unable to obtain permits to build homes as the catchment authority will not approve any new septic systems in the area on land less than a hectare.
NATIONAL CENTRE FOR FARMER HEALTH
STATE and federal government buck-passing means the future of the centre is now in jeopardy.
Launched in 2008, the centre works to improve the health of farming families and others in the sector, but its funding was slashed in this year’s state budget.
The NCFH delivered the Sustainable Farming Families programs during recent droughts and offers mental health services, among other programs.
Both the Victorian Farmers Federation and National Farmers’ Federation have called for both levels of government to fund the centre.
NORTH EAST RAILWAY LINE
THE line, from Melbourne to Albury, has been plagued by problems since a $500 million upgrade forced passengers on to buses from November 2008 to June last year.
Multiple “mud holes” – sections of water-damaged track – have led to severe speed restrictions, delays and replacement buses.
V/Line trains, with a top speed of 115km/h, must slow to 60km/h at some points on the line.
Frustrated passengers say the service is unreliable, and many are forced to travel hours ahead of scheduled appointments to ensure they reach their destination on time.
SIZE and weight restrictions on a historic timber bridge at Carrathool, NSW, is causing headaches for locals.
The single-lane truss bridge can’t carry heavy vehicles or farm machinery, forcing farmers, contractors and truck drivers to travel 60km west to Hay to cross the Murrumbidgee River and the same distance back on the other side.
The bridge, built in 1922, is listed on the NSW Heritage Register as it contains a rare Bascule lift span to allow river craft to pass.
Locals are calling for a two-lane concrete bridge to be built alongside the existing timber structure, which has prohibitive maintenance costs.