Community facilities big winners thanks to drought funding

The Grenfell Rugby Grounds and the Weddin Mountain Muster are just some of the big winners from the Federal Government's Drought Communities Programme.

Deputy Prime Minister, Michael McCormack, visited Grenfell on Thursday to see how the town has used the funding.

During a visit to Lachlan Fertilizer, Regional Network Manager James Nott said it was great that Mr McCormack could be on the ground to see the benefits of the funding.

"To get that opportunity to get some of our messages across to him is great," he said.

"It's been very quiet (around Grenfell) and I don't think we've seen the worst of it, but everyone seems pretty upbeat here, we've been lucky.

"The grants keep some cash flow going through businesses and clubs and invests in their futures, they are such an important part of the community.

"They bring people together gets them off farms and enjoying themselves, rather then sitting at home worrying about rain, when they have that benefit they can spend some money in town and it helps out reciprocally," he said.

Mr McCormack said he'd been impressed by the diverse range of projects Weddin Shire was spending its $1 million on.

"We've got projects right throughout the shire from Quandialla and Greenethorpe to Caragabal," he said.

"We've got netball courts, watering ovals, halls, portable grandstands, disabled toilets, light poles, and high flow standpipes, that is critical not just for farmers but for fight fighters who may need water urgently.

"When the Rugby Club goes from 50 juniors to 100 you don't want them to be discouraged because the ground they are playing on is hard as cement, you want them to comeback and continue to play.

"We could have the Wallabies of the future coming out of Grenfell who've been inspired to play be cause their ground is decent to play on," he said.

Grenfell Rugby Club President, Mark Hughes, agreed saying they hoped the new juniors would continue through to the town's senior side.

"We are watering from a local dam that has now dried up so to get the recycled water to the ground means we can have a better playing surface for both the senior and junior teams, it will be a massive bonus," he said.

"It's fairly hard out there at the moment, the boys were kicking up some dust during the year so a bit of moisture would be good."

Mr McCormack said the grants would give people a reason and cause to stay in country communities and love them.

"This builds community capacity this enables Grenfell and its towns and villages to be more livable," he said.

"The drought is crippling right across NSW, Queensland, Victoria and South Australia. It takes its toll on peoples spirits and emotions, they are quite despondent, it's a general feeling of 'What is my future going to be?'

"If people go to a town and all the amenities are outdated, old, dilapidated or falling down it doesn't give you reason to go back in a hurry.

"But when you have a town that's fighting hard against the elements of the drought, they have this money and are spending it wisely, it gives visitors a reason to come back to tell others to visit and gives locals a feeling of optimism," he said.

Weddin Shire Mayor, Mark Liebich, said the Council had tried to put the Drought Communities Programme money into projects that benefited the community.

"By looking after the local businesses that money then supports the local employees and flows through to the supermarkets and the community," he said.

"We've tried to put it towards water projects like the union grounds, the standpipes and help the little communities with $50,000 each to their halls and help the local communities there feel good.

"We really appreciate Micheal coming and putting his feet on the ground, being a country person he understands what goes on in the bush. It's great to have him here and acknowledge the projects how good they are for the community," he said.

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