Monday, February 28, 2011

tecoma teen takes tertiary scholarship

It was wonderful to join the celebration of the Ranges Community Health, Eastern Ranges GP Association and the Shire of Yarra Ranges Tertiary Health Scholarships 2011.

The scholarships, in their sixth year, provide an opportunity to invest in the health of our future, with scholarships awarded to students from Yarra Ranges who train in the health sector. It is hoped that scholarship recipients will go on to practice their skills in the Yarra Ranges and provide ongoing and lasting benefits to our community.

It was terrific to learn that local Lyster Ward resident Mahalia Lehmann from Tecoma was the winner of the major scholarship award, $3,000 sponsored by Eastern Ranges GP Association.

Mahalia couldn't be there to accept her scholarship as she was away training on a medicamp, so her Mum, Amy Carroll was there to accept the scholarship along with Mahalia's sisters, Saskia, Izzy and Cat.

Mahalia was Dux of Mater Christi College last year and this scholarship is a worthy recognition of her skill and dedication to learning. Mahalia is undertaking a Bachelor of Medicine, with a text book list of 48 books, the scholarship will go a long way to helping Mahalia with her studies.

Other scholarship recipients include:
Kerryn Rhodes from Monbulk studying Nursing, $3,000 Major Award sponsored by Ranges Community Health.

Samuel Rogers from Olinda studying Biomedical Science, $1,000 encouragement award sponsored by the Shire of Yarra Ranges.
Conor Marshall who want to be a Paramedic is studying Emergency Health, $1,000 encouragement award sponsored by Ranges Community Health.

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Sunday, February 27, 2011

ribbons of green?

report from the roundtable - 22 feb

A motion was moved that sought a report on the progress of the Shire's Ribbons of Green program.

Ribbons of Green was developed as a way to offset the Shire's fleet greenhouse gas emissions. I have concerns about this approach as the hierarchy should be to firstly avoid emissions, if that's not possible minimise emissions and as a last option offset emissions.

It's not that I don't support improvement of biodiversity outcomes, I most certainly do, but this program is part of our Carbon Management Plan and I'm not convinced that we are seeing significant gains in the reduction of our greenhouse gas emissions.

With the indulgence of the mover of the motion I asked that the motion be amended to include a measure of carbon offsets as part of the report back. If it's about offsetting carbon emissions I think council needs to be aware of exactly what we're achieving.

I'm pleased to say that my amendment to the motion was included and I look forward to learning more about the progress of the Ribbons of Green program and its impact on the reduction of emissions in the Shire.

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Saturday, February 26, 2011

flora and fauna strategy - more opportunity to comment

report from the roundtable - 22 feb

At this week's council meeting we voted unanimously to extend the timeline for the community to provide comments to our Flora and Fauna Strategy.
I was pleased to move the motion for the extension. There's no doubt that there's been significant media attention to the strategy, albeit inaccurate and misreporting the intent of the strategy.

As a consequence council has received a lot of submissions about "our new law that stops people planting roses", which is most unfortunate as council has not proposed a law to prevent the planting of roses, or veggie patches for that matter.

I hoped that the extension of time would enable the community to gain a true understanding of the strategy and put forward submissions that were relevant.

As a way to help the community understand the intent of the strategy council has produced a fact sheet or if you'd like more information you can call our Biodiversity and Conservation Officer on 1300 368 333 or you can download the entire strategy here.

Community members now have until the 4th April, 2011 to provide feedback.

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Friday, February 25, 2011

seville supermarket gets the go ahead

report from the roundtable - 22 feb

This week council had to consider the application and planning scheme amendment for the Seville Supermarket proposal which would see the development of a 3,150 square metre supermarket and 17 specialty shops.

The application has been before council in the past, firstly in Oct 2009 where council voted to request the Minister prepare a planning scheme amendment and again in Jul 2010, where council referred the application to a planning panel.

This time round council had to make a final decision on whether the supermarket should be given the go ahead. The Planning Panel had recommended to council that the proposal should proceed with some modifications to the planning permit.

Cr Warren moved a motion to support the planning scheme amendment and planning permit for the development of the supermarket.

Cr Heenan and myself tried to amend the motion to include a legal agreement that packaged liquor would not be sold on site. My concerns brought on by the planning panel who said "The Panel notes that the proposal does not contemplate the inclusion of a liquor outlet within the development.....The Panel observes that, given the importance of liquor sales to the viability of several of the smaller town centres, had a liquor outlet been included within the proposed development, it is possible the Panel may have come to a different conclusion."

Our move to include this condition was lost with only myself, Crs Heenan and Cliff supporting the restriction of alcohol sales.

In speaking against the motion Cr Warren moved I talked about the loss of residential zoned land close to a township and how important it was to retain residential land, which could provide very well located medium density housing close to the township.

I went on to talk about the recent flooding and that much of this land was not suitable for development (the recent flood event earlier in February saw a significant amount of this land inundated). Given the likelihood of more extreme and frequent weather events, the siting of the land so close to the Wandin Yallock Creek makes it a prime target for future inundation.

I had serious concerns about the economic impact for towns along the Warburton Highway. I am not convinced by the economic assumptions provided and I think that the addition of this supermarket will not increase the local economy but just see a substitution of spending from one area to another. It's not a growth area, there's very little population growth predicted for this region of the shire, in my view the ability to create additional economic growth is extremely limited. It is my view that the impact of this development would be felt in the townships of Wandin North, Woori Yallock, Launching Place, Yarra Junction, Millgrove, Wesburn, Warburton and on already existing businesses in Seville too.

I talked about the supermarket and specialty shops in Yarra Glen, a township with a population greater than Seville (approximately 3,000) where over 50% of the specialty shops still remain unoccupied, leading to a lack of vibrancy and amenity in that town. I think Seville will have a similar experience, for a township of only 2,077 it's hard to imagine how 17 specialty shops will be occupied and remain viable.

I was outraged that the development sought to use council land (road reserve) as a buffer to the development, it's a sign that there's too much crammed on the site when the developer can't fit a vegetation buffer on their own site.

We all know that the development will exacerbate already existing congestion problems in the town, but it came as no surprise to me that it was accepted by Vic Roads, who also had no problem with the Tecoma Supermarket.

There was an assertion that this was progress, well if big box retailers are progress I lament the future direction of the shire and our small rural towns.

I talked about our Municipal Strategic Statement, which maps out the long term direction about land use and development across the shire. The MSS is explicit in it's description of Rural Townships: "Seville, essentially dormitory residential areas with small commercial centres servicing local needs". How a 3,150 square metre big box retailer, along with 17 speciality shops, fits this direction is beyond me. It was clear that the development does not meet the strategic intent of our local planning policies.

This development will have ongoing and lasting amenity and quality of life impacts for the residents of Seville. It's a lovely rural town, the proposal is a complete overdevelopment and does not represent good orderly planning.

We councillors are the elected representatives of our community, we understand the Yarra Ranges implicity, far more than the planning panel. I urged councillors to vote against the motion, to see this development go ahead would be an absolute tragedy for our Shire.

When the vote was taken, 4 councillors voted in favour (Crs Warren, Higgins, Templer and Avery) while 4 councillors voted against (Crs Dunn, McRae, Cliff and Heenan), Cr Cox was absent from the chamber due to a declared Conflict of Interest.

Given the vote was deadlocked 4 for and 4 against the Mayor, Cr Avery, had to use his casting vote to determine the matter. In the past at the Shire of Yarra Ranges it has been custom and practice in a deadlocked vote for the Mayor to vote for the status quo, which in this case would mean no to the supermarket proposal. However Cr Avery chose to support the application for the supermarket to proceed (which he is within his right to do).

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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

hillside hits its stride

I had the great pleasure of opening the 6th Hillside Film Festival at the Cameo last Saturday. The event was a sell out, the third year in a row, and viewers saw some great short films from young filmmakers across Victoria.

I was pleased to be able to award the Open Channel Best Under 18 Film Award to Isaebella Doherty for her film Swan.

Isaebella shows a maturity well beyond her years and her film Swan was beautiful. I caught up with Isaebella and film festival director, Amy-Jo Jory at Earthly Pleasures after the screening.

Hillside Film Festival is proudly supported by the Shire of Yarra Ranges and provides young filmmakers with a venue to screen their films. Brett Ludeman's film Zero Dollars won the Burrinja Music Video Award whilst Christina Tester's film Summon the Sun won the Upwey Community Bank Best Film Award.

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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

samantha in the press - roads

Plan's new turn
Mail Newspapers
by Russell Bennett
22 February 2011

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Sunday, February 20, 2011

seville water play makes a splash

It was terrific to see community come out to celebrate the opening of the Shire's Seville Water Play Park today.

People from near and far came so children could play in the water park, the only one of its kind in the outer east.

The park has been designed with families and children in mind. There's a magic button which triggers 15 random jet produced water eruptions. Children were delighted by the water fountains as well as the Archimedes Screw which gives children the opportunity to speed up or slow down the water going through the canal.

A rockery at the end of the watercourse proved to be a favourite for kids on a dinosaur hunt and the echo pipes were a resounding success.

It's a wonderful facility, well worth a visit if you're looking for something different to take the kids to on a warm day to cool down. The Seville Water Play Park is located on the corner of the Warburton Highway and the Seville-Monbulk Road, Seville.

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Saturday, February 19, 2011

scouts out and about

It was terrific to be able to join the Sherbrooke Forest District Scouts at their Founders Day celebration at Lillydale Lake.

Scouts, young and old enjoyed a range of water activities including canoeing, water sports and water cannons. It's a terrific way for children to learn water skills in a safe and fun environment.

The Sherbrooke Forest District are starting a recruitment drive for new members, I was pleased to help them out with some funding from my community ward fund for advertising banners.
Pictured left to right: Kassy Drummond - Rover and Cub Scout Leader at Belgrave South, me and Deirdre Lancaster - District Commissioner with one of the new banners.

Mark Goodchild is passionate about Scouts and is the Water Activities Leader in the district.
Here's Mark with some novice canoeists on Lillydale Lake (I'm the one in front!).

The scouting movement provides young people with some great opportunities, to learn skills that will see them through life as well as making lasting friendships. I'm impressed by the passion shown by this dedicated group of volunteers, they're quite inspiring.

The day finished with all troupes on parade and the lowering of the flag.

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rowville rail feasibility announced

Good news for public transport advocates across the East. Late last week the Minister for Public Transport and Roads, Terry Mulder, announced that work will start immediately on the Rowville Rail Link feasibility study.

The $2million study will look at construction, operational, land use and environmental issues.

Rail to Rowville is something the Eastern Transport Coalition has been campaigning for, over many years and the feasibility study is the first step along the way. It was a great way to start the ETC's meeting schedule for 2011 and I'm pleased to announce I was re-elected Chairperson of the ETC for the year, whilst Cr Ben Stennett, Mayor of Whitehorse was elected Deputy Chairperson.

The Eastern Transport Coalition looks forward to working with the government on the study, we also look forward to the announcement of the feasibility study into Doncaster Rail too. Doncaster rail is another critical missing rail link for Melbourne and was one of the Coalition's promises in the lead up to elections last year.

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Friday, February 18, 2011

library lovers lunch - keri arthur

Belgrave Library is presenting New York Times bestselling author, Keri Arthur, as part of their Library Lovers' Lunches.

Keri started her writing career at 12 and hasn't looked back. Her genre has shifted from pure fantasy to paranormal romance, her Riley Jensen Guardian series has featured on the New York Times Bestseller list. Now the author of 25 books, Keri has won the Romantic Times Lifetime Achievement award for her fiction.

Keri has several books awaiting publication with two to be released this year. It should be a terrific event, if you'd like to attend call the Belgrave Library on 9754 7266.

Cost to attend the Library Lover's Lunch is $10 and includes lunch (of course!).

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Wednesday, February 16, 2011

samantha in the press -roads

Controversial Belgrave South road project scrapped
Leader News
by Kimberley Seedy
16 Feb 2011

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earthships and the art of zero carbon living

Creative Climate Community Upper Yarra is presenting Michael Reynolds and Earthships and the Art of Zero Carbon Living at two dynamic events in Upper Yarra.

This is a great opportunity for locals to meet and learn with Michael Reynolds. At the workshop you'll be able to watch, learn and participate in a creative building exercise followed by a planning discusion about restorative andsustainable design at ECOSS and in the Yara Valley.

At the forum, participants will be inspired by Michael's story of building sustainable housing and his experimentation with advanced methods of carbon-zero housing for disaster relief and economically autonomous communities.

What: Sustainable Building workshop
Where: ECOSS Community Enviroment Park, 711 Old Warburton Hwy, Wesburn
When: Tuesday 22nd Feb, 1 to 4pm
Cost: $20 per head, space limited - bookings essential on 5967 2416

What: Evening presentation and open forum
Where: Little Yarra Steiner School Music Hall, 206 Little Yarra Rd, Yarra Junction
When: Tuesday 22nd Feb, 7pm
Cost: $10 per head, call 5967 2416 to book

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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

samantha in the press - heritage

Mail Newspapers
by Casey Neill

15 Feb 2011

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samantha in the press - roads

Windfall to seal 23 rural roads
Yarra Ranges Weekly
by Elisa Miller
15 Feb 2011

Road overtaken
Mail Newspapers
15 Feb 2011

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samantha in the press - flora & fauna

No question, humans come first: councillor's reassurance
Yarra Ranges Weekly
15 Feb, 2011

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Monday, February 14, 2011

sherbrooke children and family centre

Good news, construction is about to start on the new Sherbrooke Children and Family Centre. The new centre will deliver integrated services for families across the Dandenongs.

It's going to be built on the current site of the Upwey Pre School, the Upwey Hall (being refurbished) and Sherbrooke Children's Centre.

It's a project I'm particularly passionate about. The reason I first ran for council back in 2005 was to save Sherbrooke Children's Centre, which was under threat of closure from the then council (see
blog). The hub was borne out of an idea by the Save Our Sherbrooke Children's Centre, a group of highly motivated parents, including me, keen to turn around the closure decision and get better children's services in the hills.

Council has committed $5.3 million to the project along with funding from the State and Federal governments. The fruition of this project is a testament to being persistant and tireless in advocacy on behalf of children and families in the Dandenongs.

The new centre will expand the capacity and range of services available to support families, including maternal child health, early childhood education, care and intervention.

The centre has been designed with the environment in mind and is being constructed as a collection of single storey buildings with a connecting walkway and new entrance from Burwood Highway. The Upwey Hall is being refurbished as part of the project and will include additional multi use facilities for the community.

Construction is due to start in mid February and will be phased over the next few months so parents wont be forced to look for alternate care during the construction.

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Sunday, February 13, 2011

introducing the new vlga board

It was wonderful to learn that I'd been successfully elected as the new VLGA President for 2011-2012. I was first elected to the board in 2009 as Treasurer, I'm delighted to see this time round I'm being joined by four previous board members and four new members. Four of the nine board members are women, which is terrific, along with a good mix of age groups too.

The new board contains strong skills in local govenance, community involvement, academia and policy development as well as media and legal experience. The mix of board members will bring diverse perspectives to the table, which augers well for the organisation.

I look forward to continuing the good work of past board, led by president, Cr Heinz Kreutz, and will be an energetic and strong voice advocating for progressive social change on behalf of VLGA members.

The VLGA Board:

Cr Samantha Dunn, Shire of Yarra Ranges
Board members:
Richard Brown, community member
Cr John Doull, City of Greater Geelong
Cr Luba Grigorovitch, City of Hobsons Bay
Cr Heinz Kreutz, City of Boroondara
Dr Clare Mouat, community member
Cr Christine Richards, City of Frankston
Cr Collin Ross, Cardinia Shire Council
Bill Penrose, community member

Executive positions of Vice President (x2) and Treasurer will be determined at the first meeting of the Board.

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Saturday, February 12, 2011

belgrave south crossing works well underway

It's terrific to see works on the pedestrian crossing really starting to taking shape at Belgrave South.

The crossing is a result of community members raising safety concerns for pedestrians negotiating a busy township. With a busy street catering to a strip shopping centre and a school, crossing Colby Drive is challenging when cars are put in the mix.

The crossing is on raised pavement and traffic calming measures will be installed on Colby Drive at either end of the shopping centre to slow vehicles down. It will certainly be of great assistance to school children and parents accessing Belgrave South Primary School.

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wellington road works stopped, $’s put to rural roads

Report from the roundtable – 8 feb

Readers will recall the angst over planned construction of overtaking lanes on Wellington Rd (click here for the news story).

After considerable consultation about the project, Vic Roads are not progressing the works due to significant community opposition, safety concerns and significant vegetation removal. I was pleased to be able to move a motion to reallocate funding initially received for Wellington Road to a number of rural roads throughout the municipality.

Council initially received $8million for the project, some of which was spent on duplication works in the Cardinia Shire. The original funding came about as a result of a dubious survey of questionable validity by the then federal local member some time ago (from memory around 2005) which simply asked Latrobe residents if they ‘d like money spent on Wellington Road or the perennial favourite at the time, the Belgrave

The consultation process around the Wellington Road overtake lanes project unearthed some enormous safety concerns with residents highlighting the difficulty and danger in negotiating an even greater number of lanes of traffic in an 80kph zone. The project would have also had an enormous impact on vegetation, with the removal of trees and understorey in an area renowned for orchids and other important vegetation.

After reviewing the project Vic Roads made a sensible decision to halt the project. What that meant to the Shire was an allocation of federal funding to the tune of $5.5million in limbo. Officers were quick to contact the Federal Government to see if that money could be allocated to other roads in the shire.

Yarra Ranges Council was fortunate, the Federal Government were happy for us to use the money to target unsealed roads that support our rural industries.

It is a tremendous windfall gain for the Shire, an opportunity that happens rarely, that will allow us to seal various roads that support our rural industries, which will be of great benefit to those industries.

As part of the reallocation of funds I wanted to highlight the concerns raised by residents about turning left on to the various local side streets off Wellington Road, so ensured that council included as part of its motion a letter to VicRoads highlighting the safety and access issues and asking VicRoads to investigate improvements for residents.

Cr McRae highlighted some concerns about some roads not being included on the list and the order of roads on the list as well as the robustness of the shire’s assessment of rural roads and indicated she would not be supporting the motion.
Cr Templer highlighted that his constituency had asked him why there were no roads from O’Shannassy on the listing.

In closing I recognised that not every rural road supporting rural industries in the Shire could be sealed for $5.5million dollars and officers were constrained by short timelines and ease of construction. In my reply to Cr Templer I indicated that this matter first came before council on the 7th December 2010 and Cr Templer had ample opportunity to raise issues but he chose not to. I also recognised that Cr McRae had been trying to seek resolution around the Ryrie Ward roads for some time and had been clearly advocating for her community.

The vote was 8 councillors for and one against, with Cr McRae dissenting.

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Friday, February 11, 2011

flood impact on yarra ranges

As of last Monday (7th Feb) the Shire had received 599 requests relating to the flooding and flood damage. Requests are still coming in thick and fast. The requests to date relate to 426 different roads throughout the municipality, covering 52 suburbs/townships.

Roads throughout the shire were impacted, this one in Belgrave was one of many that suffered extensive erosion.

~ 41 suburbs have reported 10 or less roads with issues.
~ 9 suburbs have reported 10-20 roads with issues including Launching Place, Wandin Nth, Chirnside Park, Montrose, Selby, Yarra Junction, Belgrave, Healesville and Mt Evelyn.
~ 3 suburbs have reported 20-40 roads with issues, being Mooroolbark, Upwey & Lilydale.

The volume of rain caused much erosion to private property and public infrastructure.

The focus of council’s works is on making everything safe and accessible followed by permanent rehabilitation works. We commenced rehabilitation works last Sunday the 6 Feb and I’m thankful to Boral who opened their quarry on Sunday morning to allow us to collect supplies to start immediately on repairing the roads.

The shire had reports of around 50 houses suffering inundation, this house in Belgrave one of them.
Ten contractors along with shire staff are working on tree removal, road and car park repair, unblocking and clearing drainage as well as repairs to buildings and bridges. However given the volume of requests and level of specialist works required it is estimated that it will take approximately 6 months to complete all the restoration works.
The sMy thanks to our emergency services who energy and efforts are untiring on behalf of our community, also thanks to the community for maintaining their good spirits, and lastly thanks to the Shire staff who are busily working on repair and restoration works around the clock.

If you need to report any flood damage please call the Shire’s 24 hour number on 1300 368 333.

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Thursday, February 10, 2011

samantha in the media - flora & fauna

Interview on the Flora & Fauna Strategy
by Martin King
10 February 2011

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Wednesday, February 09, 2011

samantha in the press - weeds

Plea to tidy up the 'Weedinongs'
Leader Newspapers
by Kimberley Seedy
9 Feb 2011

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flora and fauna strategy - the outlandish claims

Readers of this blog might have seen the newspaper article in this week's Mail Newspaper about the Shire's draft Flora and Fauna Strategy.

The article contained inaccurate and incorrect details about the draft strategy and completely misrepresents the intent of the strategy.

I love my roses as much as the next person, they've had a battering over the weekend so this isn't my best specimen, but it's the only one at the moment. To suggest the draft Flora and Fauna Strategy will make it law that you can't plant roses in your garden is one of the silliest claims I've ever heard.

I assure all our Rose Growers, you will have ongoing business in the Shire of Yarra Ranges.

One of the most outlandish claims is that the Shire won't allow people to plant roses, what absolute nonsense. No where in the draft does it talk about residents not being able to plant roses or other non indigenous plants on their properties.

There has also been misreporting that the strategy does not support fuel reduction burning, yet another piece of misinformation, the strategy does not recommend against fuel reduction burning in fire prone areas.

There is no conflict between the strategy and the Victorian Bushfire Royal Commission recommendations. The strategy also aligns with State Government policy on native vegetation, the Native Vegetation Management Framework.

The Yarra Ranges is known nationally and internationally for its flora and fauna and this includes exotic species. Anyone travelling through the Dandenong Ranges will recognise the unique mix of exotic gardens amongst our indigenous Mountain Ash forests, you only have to look as far as the beautiful George Tindale, Pirianda or Nicholas gardens. The draft strategy is about protecting and enhancing our natural assets, both native and exotic. It's been developed to deal with the enhancement, survival and biodiversity of flora and fauna in the Shire.

The strategy is not about putting the environment ahead of public safety and Yarra Ranges has a raft of Emergency Management and Fire Prevention plans to ensure we do as much as possible to ensure public safety.

The most unfortunate thing about this article is that is confuses the community about the intent of the draft and seeks to derail important community consultation on the document.

I urge anyone who has questions to contact the shire's Biodiversity and Conservation Coordinator on 1300 368 333 and find our the real facts about the draft strategy. Don't believe the ridiculous nonsense in the paper, it's simply untrue and just a headline grab.

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yarra ranges contributes to flood relief efforts

Recently councillors discussed the flood disasters in both Queensland and Victoria. With the memory of the generous assistance the Shire received in the recent Black Saturday bushfire disaster we wanted to make sure we gave back on behalf of our community.

Councillors decided to donate $50,000 towards the Premier’s Flood Appeal in Queensland.

We were also prepared to send staff to Queensland to assist with the recovery effort, however in the interim the flood disaster of Northern Victoria was unfolding. In response to the Victorian floods the Shire sent some 20 staff to Stawell to help the Northern Grampians Shire in their Municipal Emergency Coordination Centre.

Our staff have been involved by helping out with health and road inspections as well as emergency management and administrative support. Our staff generously volunteered to help our northern neighbours for several days at a time.

Post Black Saturday council has put much resourcing in to the Shire’s Emergency Management Team, we now have the largest emergency management team of any council in the country. It was time for us to share that resource and capacity with a smaller rural council that doesn’t have the same capacity to deal with the scale of this flood disaster.

Yarra Ranges received an enormous amount of assistance when we were facing the aftermath of the Black Saturday bushfires, it is certainly time to return the favour.

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Tuesday, February 08, 2011

small business clinics

I'm please to advise of a new mentoring program we are offering local small businesses in the Shire of Yarra Ranges.

Council’s Economic Development Unit in conjunction with the ‘Small Business Mentoring Service’ (SBMS) are offering small business owners one free 45 minute session with an experienced business mentor.

It's a great opportunity for small business owners to seek assistance from experienced mentors with an indepth knowledge of small business experience across a huge range of industries.

The Clinic will provide opportunities for business owners to discuss strategies and skills which will help to develop their business for the future.

The clinics will take place at Council’s Anderson Street office, and will be held on the 4th Friday of each month from 10:30am – 1:30pm. The first clinic will be on Friday February 25 and run through until November, 2011.

Bookings are essential and can be made by contacting Donna or Michelle at or phoning 9294 6735.

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Monday, February 07, 2011

black saturday - 2 years on

The 7th February, 2011, two years on from Black Saturday, is a day of contemplation and a day of remembrance. I will be taking some time today to remember those terrible events of two years ago. Thoughts turn to the tragic loss of life, the devastating loss of people’s homes and the shocking and extensive loss of wildlife and bushland.

The tireless efforts of the CFA volunteers were heroic, there were amazing gestures of generosity from near and far as people responded to the tragedy that was unfolding before us. We see that same generosity of spirit today as Australians open their hearts to those affected by flood, cyclone or bushfire in various states across the nation.

Two years on, we see recovery, rebuilding and regeneration. People continuing their journey to get their lives back on track, new houses built and the bush continuing with its regeneration.

It will take a long time to recover from such a tragic natural disaster, Black Saturday has affected many people in many ways. With understanding and care people are rebuilding their lives, overcoming the trauma and learning to live with the memories.

At this two year mark, my thanks again to all the volunteers who went well beyond the call of duty in responding to Black Saturday and still do to this day.

I also extend my thanks to all those volunteers who assisted the Shire over this weekend as we endured the onslaught of the tail end of Cyclone Anthony. I pay tribute to our community members who maintained their good spirits even when up to their knees in water, recognising that their plight was minor in comparison to the cyclone ravaged areas of Queensland.

On this second anniversary of Black Saturday I extend my heartfelt and sincere well wishes to all those people who lost loved ones in the fires, this day will be difficult for you but know that our thoughts are with you.

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Sunday, February 06, 2011

community grants open for 2011


Applications for 2011-2012 are to be submitted online at

The 2011-2012 Yarra Ranges Council Grants for Community program is now open and is being launched with a series of information sessions in February and a grant writing workshop in early March. The Annual Grants for Community Program has been designed to strengthen communities in Yarra Ranges by fostering active participation in local projects and activities.

One-off funding is provided to support communities to achieve their goals, resulting in tangible outcomes for their communities.

The Yarra Ranges Council grants support initiatives which aim to:
Meet local needs;
Encourage the formation of partnerships; and
Implement solutions to identified issues.

There are three funding categories within the one-off annual Grants for Community Program being:
Cultural Development (for organisations & individuals)
Festivals & Events (for organisations only)
Community Development (for organisations only)

Important Dates
1 February 2011 Grants open
16 February 2011 Yarra Junction - 6.30pm to 8.00pm (information session)
17 February 2011 Lilydale - 6.30pm to 8.00pm (information session)
23 February 2011 Monbulk - 10.00am to 11.30am (information session)
3 March 2011 Lilydale - 4.30pm to 7.30pm (hands-on workshop)
11 April 2011 Grants close

For more information or to book into an information session click here.

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Saturday, February 05, 2011

storms across yarra ranges

In the last 24 hours the Shire of Yarra Ranges has received over 400 calls about flood/storm damage. This afternoon the Shire's MECC (Municipal Emergency Coordination Centre) was activated.

The spillway at Belgrave Lake Park was flowing at an enormous pace, Monbulk Creek has suffered significant flooding.

Roads across the shire are closed (click here for Vic Roads information) due to trees down, flooding and landslip. This is the Belgrave Gembrook Road, unpassable this morning due to trees down. I urge people to take it easy on the roads if you're out and about today.

Some roads are still flood affected, this intersection at McNicol Rd and Station St, Belgrave is not traversible

Although unconfirmed there have been reports of approximately 50 houses being impacted by flash flooding or flooding.

This pothole is over one metre deep and around ten metres long, I urge people to take great care when driving on unsealed roads in the region.

A number of landslips have been reported as well and are currently being inspected to determine the size and scale of the slips.

Areas most impacted in the Shire include Belgrave, Upwey, Lilydale, Mooroolbark, Kilsyth, Healesville and Badgers Creek.

Clematis Creek, like all of our waterways, has burst its banks and is flowing across the road. Puffing Billy volunteers assisted the clean up. Happy to have something to do as Puffing Billy isn't running today due to fallen trees and landslips on the line.

Reports of damage to council infrastructure and roads are being prioritised for a response.

CFA and SES Volunteers are being kept busy with traffic management and storm damage clearance, I'm thankful for their tireless contribution to our community.

If you need to contact council please call our 24 hour call centre number on 1300 368 333.

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Thursday, February 03, 2011

are wasps a problem for you?

Due to unprecedented levels of European Wasp actitivity last summer council decided to enter into negotiations with wasp nest removers to provide a discounted rate for nest removal to Yarra Ranges residents.

It seems this summer isn't such a problem, but they are still around. European Wasps can be very agressive and will act to protect their nest, so it's important that you take great care to destroy their nests, should you decide to do it yourself. You can find out more information about how to locate and remove a nest by clicking here.

If you'd like details of the contractors providing discounts, click here.

If you find a nest on council land, be sure to let us know by calling 1300 368 333, emailing or dropping in to your local Community Link

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Tuesday, February 01, 2011

samantha in the press - green wedge

Paradise saved
Mail Newspapers
by Russell Bennett
1 Feb 2011

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samantha in the press - australia day awards

Caring Carol
Mail Newspapers
by Casey Neill
1 Feb 2011

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samantha in the press - homelessness

'Sleeping rough' by-law deferred
Yarra Ranges Weekly
01 Feb 2011

Homeless stung
Mail Newspapers
by Kath Gannaway
01 Feb 2011

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