COVID-19 Restrictions look like being substantially eased by mid-July in most areas of our society. It has been a difficult time and I would like to take this opportunity to thank our residents for their patience and cooperation through what has been an inconvenient time for some. We have all had to be mindful and tolerant of the situation. I would also like to offer a vote of thanks to council staff, it has not been an easy task to reorganise a workforce, put contingency plans together to ensure the health and wellbeing of both staff and our community, comply with OLG/NSW Government Health Orders whilst maintaining a good level of service to the community. Because the doors were closed for a time that did not mean council was closed, all staff were working. Staff are now transitioning back into the office; community facilities are gradually reopening albeit under certain restrictions. Like with most councils, these unforeseen circumstances have affected the bottom line and will continue to impact the 2020/21 budget as contingency plans need to be financially accounted for.

O’Connell community members joined staff and students from O’Connell Public School, councillors and our local member Paul Toole at the proposed O’Connell Recreation Ground last week to hear an announcement that funding of $349,579 has been allocated through the Stronger Country Communities Fund to begin stage one of a development that will be a wonderful facility, not only for O’Connell residents but the wider community. After many years of negotiation council recently secured the purchase of the land earmarked for the future development of a sports and recreation ground in the village. The O’Connell community are very excited that at last the project can get underway. The development will add greatly to the social fabric of the village, a gathering place and venue for many varied activities such as festivals and special events. The students of O’Connell Public School will no longer have to travel to other grounds to hold sports carnivals or other sporting activities, the visual locality of an attractive green space between O’Connell Road (The Avenue of Trees) and St Thomas Church will draw locals and visitors alike. I would like to acknowledge Minister Toole’s ongoing support of Oberon. Without grant funding we would not be able to develop projects so important to the wellbeing of our community. 

This is Men's Health Week – an opportunity to focus on the health and wellbeing of Australia's men and boys, who are vital members of our homes, workplaces, schools and broader communities. In addition to physical health concerns, mental ill health is a major factor in the quality of life for men especially during challenging times. We need to be open about the conversation around both physical and mental health. By improving the health and wellbeing of Australia’s men and boys of all ages and from all walks of life, we can ensure a healthier, happier and stronger society in the future.

Volunteers of all ages are not only the backbone of our community, but they also support the many ”not for profit” organisations that contribute so much to our society. The NSW Volunteer of the Year Awards are now open and I would like to ensure Oberon’s wonderful volunteers are acknowledged. There are seven award categories.  Regional winners will progress to the State Awards. I have my own ideas on who to nominate but I would also like yours. Do not let our gratitude go unmentioned. Please contact me asap with your suggestions, nominations close Friday 3 July.

Staff are about to commence the removal of grass growth within the stone lined constructed storm water channel between the upper and lower dams. This work will be undertaken over the next few weeks and will I am sure, again highlight what is a very attractive feature in the space. 

Although the replacement of the fire damaged Boyd River Bridge is all but complete, Kanangra Boyd National Park is unfortunately still closed and will be for the immediate future. There is still an element of risk from falling trees along the walking tracks that needs to mitigated.

Look out for the next in the series of “We Want You Back” videos which should launch this week. This tourism initiative is a collaboration between several councils in the region aimed and encouraging visitors to visit our lovely part of the state.