Shedding some light

Haidee VandenbergheCountryman

Narembeen residents are brushing off the cobwebs and sweeping out the dust, after receiving $96,000 to upgrade the town’s community shed. The money was part of the drought pilot, which last week announced the recipients of $900,000 in funding for WA shires to build communities resilient to tough times.

For Narembeen, the funding means a vision to incorporate various community groups under one roof, including the men’s shed and arts and crafts groups, is set to become reality.

By June next year, the Wheatbelt town hopes to have converted a disused shed and office building into a purpose-built focal point for the community.

But while the funding marks a departure from more traditional drought packages that included measures such as interest rate subsidies, local GP Dr Peter Lines said it was exactly what was needed.

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“In terms of what activities could take place here, whether it’s doing arts and crafts groups or men wielding hammers, that doesn’t matter so much, ” he said.

“It’s the fact that there is a venue where you can get together and remind ourselves that we’re all in the same boat.”

In the midst of his 59th harvest, local farmer Eddie Dixon said the project would have benefits that extended far beyond the current stretch of tough seasons.

“It’s what many retired farmers need, because they’re used to having their own shed on the farm and using their hands, ” Mr Dixon said, adding that it would help to keep people in the community.

“All of a sudden when they retire into town and stop driving in and out to the farm every day, they need to occupy themselves — that’s why it’s a necessary thing, ” he said.

The shire was also set to apply for a slice of $2 million in community service grants, which the State government announced last Wednesday as part of its $5 million dry season assistance package.

Committed to using local trades on the upgrade project, Narembeen shire executive officer Frank Peczka said the funding received would flow through to local businesses.

But while Narembeen, Perenjori, Beacon, Dowerin, Mukinbudin, Lake Grace, Lake Varley and Canna shared the spoils of the Federal funding, plenty of others missed out. A total of 42 applications from 33 local government areas were received, but just eight were granted funding.

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