Reports suggest that Deidre Comerford, Mayor of the Mackay Regional Council, is hoping that the council’s generosity could initiate an economic fillip of more than $14 million for the locality.
Former president of SSAA Mackay Graham Blines worked in tandem with current president Bob Engwirda to make sure the deal was sorted out once they had heard about the offer. “We also had Bob’s wife Shelley involved and she was able to take some of the rough edges off the final report,” said Graham. “We just decided to have a go and didn’t really know what our chances were.”
The initiative was instigated by the Mackay Regional Council, which had funding allocated for non-profit-making organisations in the district to try to create jobs. The council decided money should be made available for building projects and to expand existing facilities. One of the other stipulations was that the branch had to use local contractors to stimulate the building industry in the community, which it was quite happy to do. “We had to show that the community would benefit down the track,” said Graham.
In fact, SSAA Mackay was easily able to do that, taking the council by surprise when informing it that the club had 1200 members. “They didn’t realise we had such a big membership in the area or that we had such a lot of disciplines,” said Graham.
The actual grant came from a trust that the council had set up and labelled the ‘Better Community Building Fund’. Some of the funds will be used to build a new amenities block containing showers and toilets for members. The rest will go to creating a lock-up storage shed, complete with roller doors for the equipment that will measure 7x30m. “To be honest, it’s well overdue,” said Graham. “The fact is that because of our big membership we have completely outgrown our present facility.”
Once tenders have been put out and agreed upon, work is likely to start on July 1 this year. Construction cannot get underway any quicker because the club is putting in for another grant, this time under options for sport and recreation facilities. “We are putting in $40,000 on top of the $210,000 that we are being given by the council, but we have to wait and see what happens with this other application before we are allowed to start work,” said Graham. “And we have to show that we can cover all contingencies.”
SSAA Qld President Michael Pommer felt the coup for the Mackay club should act as encouragement for other branches to actively chase funding for the improvement of their respective infrastructures. “I was very pleased to be advised of the SSAA Mackay Branch’s success in receiving this funding,” he said. “There are numerous opportunities for motivated branches to obtain funding through various government and private sources.
“Even if you don’t believe you have the necessary skills to prepare a grant application yourself, there are people who specialise in this field and operate on a fee-for-service basis. I would encourage all of our branches to actively pursue grants to develop and improve their local infrastructure and member facilities. Congratulations to SSAA Mackay Branch for this excellent result.”