$755,000 great news for halls



The Clutha District Council has secured a $755,000 funding boost for five community halls.
Council staff were quick off the mark last month when the Government invited submissions to the Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) for community hall renovations.

Mayor Bryan Cadogan said the PGF had turned out ‘‘very well’’ for Clutha.

‘‘All those halls can now move ahead with their planned renovations; it’s such a tonic being able to work in with central government,’’ he said.

Council service delivery group manager Jules Witt said staff, hall committee members and local suppliers came together quickly to prepare the submissions.

‘‘We continue to have discussions with the local hall committees and we want them to be able to take the lead with this work and engage with local tradespeople to get done what they want, within the guidelines of the funding.’’

Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones announced a total of $12.4 million from the PGF would be spent nationally to renovate halls and war memorials.

Of that, $2,718,606 was granted to projects in Otago and Southland, including, in Clutha, $755,032 for facilities in Kaka Point, Owaka, Waitahuna, Hillend and Waiwera South.

Many of the Clutha hall projects will focus on reroofing or recladding operations in order to keep the buildings weathertight.

Due to the rapid turnaround required for funding applications, hall committees were initially in the dark regarding the submissions.

Owaka Memorial Community Centre committee chairman John Burgess said, on discovering the windfall, he and fellow committee members were ‘‘rapt’’.

“We’ve been trying to get more funds for the hall for years now.

‘‘We’ll start at the roof, which has a few leaks, and then work down to walls and reclad them with Colorsteel.

“The whole community got together 52 years ago and donated time, money and materials for its construction. There are not too many small›town halls left, but they’re an integral part of our communities.”

Waiwera South Hall committee secretary Anna Whiteside said an engineer from the Clutha District Council assessed the hall before an application for funding was made.

“Our roof desperately needs replacing and, like all the halls, we need our electrics sorted out.’’

She said the hall still had an important role in the district.

‘‘The school uses it quite regularly and it still has the odd function or funeral there.

‘‘We were really happy when we heard we were getting this money, for things we probably wouldn’t be able to achieve otherwise.’’

Hillend Hall committee chairman Ashley Townsend said it was ‘‘awesome news’’ for the small rural community.

“Now, we can get the roof fixed up and have proper heating, which will allow greater community usage.’’

He said the committee had received about 80% to 90% of requested funding