1 May 2015

I have visited many flood-affected residents since the devastating storms struck the Hunter region on Monday 20 April. Residents across the local government area have lost homes, livestock and valuable household items. I was saddened to see the level of destruction and there is a huge amount of recovery and repair ahead of us. However, I have also been impressed by the resilience of people and how positive community members have also been despite losing belongings. I’m sure the community can rebuild and move forward. Cessnock City Council is also here to help. A Disaster Welfare Information Centre has been set up at Council for residents who are experiencing hardship as a result of the floods. Staff members have been busy collecting rubbish, removing trees, making road and drainage repairs and assisting thousands of customer service inquiries. Finally, there are some important health and safety messages for those affected by the floods. You can read them on council’s website at  www.cessnock.nsw.gov.au/environment/flood  

Councillors made a special effort this year to commemorate the Centenary of Anzac. We unveiled commemorative plaques at several cenotaphs and parks at Cessnock, Kurri Kurri, Branxton, Greta, Weston, Abermain, Wollombi and Kearsley. It is always good to see schools involved in Anzac services and students recognising soldiers who have been killed in World Wars as well as more recent conflicts such as Afghanistan. Books were given to many schools involved in Anzac services this year. Primary schools in the region received the book Simpson and his Donkey while high school students were given The Great War. I am looking forward to catching up and hearing about the experience of four students (Hannah Onion, Lauren Wood, Adam Robinson and Heidii Hyland) who represented the LGA at Gallipoli for Anzac Day. I encourage community members to do the same and attend various RSL functions where the students will speak. Unfortunately councillors were unable to be at two dawn services this year but we were at the vast majority of events.

While still on the subject of national pride, we have a citizenship ceremony this week at Cessnock City Council Chambers. We have 11 residents from a variety of cultural backgrounds who have decided to become Australian citizens on Friday 8 May. This is an important day for these residents and their families and I’m delighted to conduct the ceremony again.

The 2015 Mayoral Scholarship Awards were postponed due to the recent storms. The evening event has been rescheduled for Tuesday 26 May. The 11 winners of the 2015 Mayoral Academic Scholarships will be announced at the Cessnock Performing Arts Centre in front of family members, special guests, former winners, Councillors and staff. I believe many of the categories were gruelling for our judges to deliberate over. Thank you to the students who applied for the 2015 scholarships and I encourage you all to reapply next year.  

Bob

‘Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm’ Ralph Waldo Emerson