Blackwood Action Group Inc
President's Annual Report 2020
We will look back on 2020 with so many different and unique memories, with the world-wide impact of the COVID pandemic affecting all of our lives and community. Through all of this, our Hills Community has continued to support each other, have strong community goals and activities and have that very “special” factor that wants us to love living in the Hills.
BAG , though its formal meetings have had to be cancelled, has managed to continue its many and varied activities and we must sincerely thank all of our volunteers, who in such difficult times, have kept their passion and vision for our Community. It has been our willing and active volunteers who deserve a very big thank you for ensuring that the Hills is recognised State-wide as a highly desirable location to live.
The year began with the highlight of the recognition of Lis and Geoff Bartlett as the Citizens of the Year at the Australia Day Award ceremony for the Mitcham Council. This was a very well deserved and public acknowledgement of the outstanding work and efforts that our “dynamic duo” has done for our Hills Community for so many years. BAG is the product of their vision and passion for a community group to serve the people, and as the joint founders of the group, over ten years ago, they have been the linchpin and anchor for so many projects, as well as serving for all those years on the committee or in official positions. We sincerely thank Lis and Geoff for their belief and sheer hard work as they have been very instrumental in upgrading and improving the environment of our Hills.
In such difficult times, it has been so rewarding to continually see the vision, and untiring hard work of the BAG Committee. Though our meetings have been reduced, committee members, through their roles and responsibilities have maintained many projects. Secretary Geoff Bartlett has as normal been a strong influence for our community and with his pride and belief in his special environment, we have all profited. As Treasurer, Peter Manthey has managed the BAG finances in a positive and responsible manner, so though we have had fewer fund-raising options or activities, BAG is still in a very strong fiscal position.
Lis Bartlett continues to wear many hats – Coro. Station Coordinator, Greening Blackwood and total involvement in every project – we are indebted to her for her outstanding contribution.
Liz Sawyer has been the Committee link with the history activities of the Group as well as involvement in so many projects; she is a valuable Committee member with her passion and love for the Hills.
Kay Leverett has made a positive contribution to the Committee not only as the Minute Secretary but also as the convenor of the Blackwood Station where she has been a strong leader and positive influence.
Tom Morrison joined the Committee this year and his outstanding knowledge and understanding of modern technology, social media and communication alternatives, has been a “godsend” to the Committee and we thank him for his total commitment and involvement.
Jake Hodgman has continued to be strongly involved in the activities of the Group as well as the Committee and he always brings a refreshing viewpoint to discussions.
Three Committee members will be stepping down this year. Jenny Tidswell, in the short time that she has been on Committee has been a very clear and decisive member, very passionate for the Hills and always prepared to be actively involved in all of our projects.
Similarly, Roger Henderson in his time on the Committee has made valuable contributions, both in discussions and decisions but also taking over the organisation of the Lions BBQ arrangements. To both Jenny and Roger, we say a very big “thank you”.
The third departing committee member is Andrew Tidswell who has had such a dominant and strong influence within our Community for so many years. Whether as our long serving President and Committee member, Andrew has always had a clear and definite vision of the direction and purpose of BAG, from the beginning and till now. He was fundamental in preparing the solid foundations upon which BAG has been built and we have been the beneficiaries of his forward-thinking vision. He has been a mentor to so many and I have gained so much, in so many ways, from his extensive contributions for so many years. He, like the other departing members, will not be lost to us, as they will still maintain their participation in present and future projects.
As in past years, ex -Officio members – Pauline Dodd and Adrian Beech – have attended relevant meetings when their areas of responsibilities have been discussed and they have brought their passion and belief in our area to our meetings
1. History Group
Despite the COVID crisis, the History Group has continued to organise activities and educate our community. Even though History Month was cancelled, the Group organised the monthly History articles in The Blackwood Times, completed the second Rail Heritage Board at Belair Station and begun the third for Eden Hills, and prepared a shop window display of a series of educational posters to show our public the role and history of Libraries in Blackwood. As well, their publication All Good Things Come from the Hills has been re-printed again - and is still very popular.
The oral conversations with older residents have continued to provide a rich source of knowledge of the past.
The Mitcham Council must again be thanked for their Grants for not only the second History Interpretative Panel, but also the third.
Our thanks must go the leadership of Anne Hazell, Liz Sawyer, Cr. Lindy Taeuber and Pauline Dodd, as this group is a highlight of our community.
2. Community Links Group
The virus also impacted on the plans for the Community Links Group but they are planning for the Christmas Tree Festival to be resumed next year.
3. Blackwood & Coromandel Railway Stations
The bi-monthly working bees organised by Kay Leverett and Lis Bartlett have been able to continue this year and we can be immensely proud of the quality of the natural environment. With further plantings and weed clearance, these two stations are recognised by DIT’s Rail Care as outstanding templates for community station projects.
4. Greening Blackwood
Recognised for many years as revitalising the Blackwood Centre with their greening projects, BAG has maintained their upkeep and development. The planter boxes in both supermarkets are sources of positive comment and enjoyment for so many and we thank the volunteers who have kept them in such a high standard. In particular, thanks must go to the organisers – Libby Moore and John Kennedy for Barty's Park and Joan and Adrian Beech for the Main Road planter boxes and Kay Leverett for the Woolworths Car Park Geraniums. Barty’s Park, in Drake’s Supermarket Car Park is constantly looked after by Libby and John – for which we thank them. They do a wonderful job in this poplar “pocket park”.
A new project – the clean-up and planting of the verge gardens at 178 Main Road (corner of Gulfview Road) – came about in response to a Business-owner’s request and offered full payment of costs. This project was successfully completed during Spring.
5. Blackwood Hill Reserve Farmhouse
There have been a series of working bees this year to maintain and upgrade the former historic farmhouse site on Trevor Tce. and with the assistance of the Mitcham Council this Reserve is more relevant and accessible to the local community.
6. Christmas Red Bows
As has happened over the past twenty plus years, Blackwood has welcomed the festive season with the distribution of Christmas Red Bows. With the addition of the painted cut-out Christmas Trees also along Main Road, the red colour brightens the environment and transforms Blackwood for the festive season
We must gain thank Joan and Adrian Beech, whose organisation and leadership enables the Red Bows brighten our streets, gardens and buildings. Again, sincere thanks to the many volunteers and local community for continuing to support the project.
7. Christmas Pageant and Fair
Because of the pandemic, unfortunately the Pageant and Fair had to be cancelled this year.
8. Wittunga Botanic Garden
BAG has maintained a role with Wittunga with Members being part of the volunteer garden group (“Hands on Hort”) as well as providing their opinions for future development. Andrew Tidswell has had a important input into the future plans for the Wittunga Botanic Garden and it is good to see the completion of a number of projects and the recognition of the importance of this facility within the Hills area.
9. Streetscape Murals
The Stobie Pole murals as progressed this year – funded by BAG and supplemented with a successful Grant from the Mitcham Council and the generous sponsorship of the Rotary Club of Coromandel Valley. With Shepherd's Hill Road as the initial focus, local artists are already painting their murals on the hardboards and the first murals will be unveiled before the end of the year.
The support and enthusiasm of the local artists and art groups has been very evident, and we look forward to this project continuing for a number of years. It is clearly the biggest project that BAG has undertaken, so a very big “thank you” to all involved.
10. Blackwood Hub Project
This year has seen this project further advanced with a series of Council meetings seeking community responses and comment on various plans. This has been a major consideration for the Council throughout the year and we look forward to a positive outcome.
11. Road Infrastructure and Transport Issues
With the completion and acceptance of the Blackwood Roundabout, the State Government is considering further plans for the upgrading of the Main Road at Belair Triangle, the James Road and Old Belair Road junction and the Shepherds hill Road intersection with Waite Street and Brighton Parade.. As well we are all looking forward to the completion of the Darlington and Tonsley Park roadworks.
12. Local, State and Federal Government Links
In last year’s Report I acknowledged the established and strong links with not only the Mitcham Council, but also the State and Federal Governments and their local representatives. I cannot speak highly enough of the support and encouragement of our Mayor, our Elected members and Council staff for their commitment to the Mitcham Hills- and their willingness to listen to the community.
13. Local Community support
During these difficult times, it has been the total community support that has come to the fore and BAG interacts closely with other similar groups – Coromandel National Trust, Rotary Clubs of Coromandel and Blackwood, Blackwood Lions, Masonic Lodge. We are all working together for the betterment of our community. Like all local community groups, BAG is totally reliant on the support, encouragement and assistance of the Mitcham Hills Community, whether it be individuals, groups, retail and professional services, local businesses.
This past year has brought many challenges and issues for everyone as well as Service and Community Groups. Throughout this year, BAG has continued to be relevant and practical in our Community.
It is volunteers and supporters who are our source of inspiration and strength during these times.
BAG continues to be instrumental and important in conveying the wishes and views of the residents of the Mitcham Hills.
We can never thank the volunteers and community enough, as it is their hard work and passion that is so important. To be able to work with such committed and conscientious volunteers is a blessing and I sincerely thank all of you for your belief and participation in our community.