The YMCA has asked the Town Council to pay it an additional amount of up to $45,000 a month "over and above the existing subsidy" for managing the town pool. The request was made by Fiona Davies, president of YMCA Central Australia, in a letter in December last year which proposed "a new business model with a new business plan and budget for presentation to Council at its March 2012 meeting."
The letter has been leaked to the Alice Springs News Online.
Meanwhile in a comment piece yesterday the News asked: Why can't we get a straight answer on this one?
The Alice Springs News Online had a phone call yesterday from someone requesting anonymity. What that person told me prompted me to send the following email to Mayor Damien Ryan and Town Council CEO Rex Mooney.
"I understand the YMCA has under-tendered for its management of the pool. Takings from attendance, and as a result, earnings, are well below expectations. The council is paying them half a million dollars more [in excess of the contract] during the life of the agreement (1 or 2 years?). This bail-out has not been made public. The proper course of action should have been to re-tender the contract. Could you please comment on this?"
Mr Mooney responded yesterday: "Erwin, thank you for your email. My comment is: I am constrained by confidentiality to comment on the assumptions conveyed in your email." And Mr Ryan (pictured) replied: "Erwin ... any questions on operational issues need to be directed to the CEO." ERWIN CHLANDA reports.
Salt deposits in thick beds and domes have been found near Titjikala, on Maryvale Station, 120 kilometers south of Alice Springs.
The deposit is believed to be one of Australia's largest and and will provide its first underground salt mine, according to the managing director of Tellus Holdings, Duncan van der Merwe.
He says: "The project should also provide substantial research and business opportunities for Alice Springs business and research institutions, including community development, Indigenous employment and training, renewable energy and micro-business opportunities, such as bush foods.
Tellus is also looking at a processing and packaging plant for edible gourmet salts and other specialty salt products that could be in Alice Springs.
Mr van der Merwe said salt mining is a low impact activity that would have a small surface footprint and little visual impact.
“Tellus is planning an initial mine life of 25 years, which is likely to be extended by another 25 years. However the underground deposit is so huge that the potential mine life is virtually limitless,” Mr van der Merwe said. (Media release)
PHOTOS: A salt mine project may breathe some life into the main street of Titjikala. Photo courtesy MacDonnell Shire. "Room mining" in a salt mine in Canada.
Risk of a 'lame duck' mayor, he warns
"There is a risk in this election of seeing a 'lame duck' mayor," says candidate for councillor Vince Jeisman. He strongly supports the incumbent Damien Ryan but says it's clear that the field is divided behind Mayor Ryan and Alderman Eli Melky as the lead contender amongst his four challengers.
Whoever wins the mayoral contest will be looking keenly at who takes the fourth and fifth positions in the councillor ballot, says Mr Jeisman, to see whether the "strong lobby from the right" or "the middle to leftist" candidates will have the majority.
Mr Jeisman, a Labor Party member and electorate officer for Labor MHR Warren Snowdon, obviously counts himself in the latter camp. He says he will be happy with whatever way the cards fall.
"The community will make up its mind on polling day and we all have to live with that decision.
"If I'm elected, I will bring my Labor values to the debate but once a decision of council is made I will be bound by it."
He sums up his Labor values as a belief in social justice, equity and striving for a balance between freedoms and equality: "In our decisions how do we include everyone in the community without becoming too burdensome on some?"
Applying this to the issue on everyone's lips – law and order – he says the causes, not the symptoms have to be treated. Unless we do that, it's like filling a swimming pool with a hole in the bottom. That's what we would be doing if we only brought in more police and youth programs, say, and didn't do something about grog. KIERAN FINNANE reports.
Pictured: Vince Jeisman in Hartley Street, between the Post Office and Yeperenye. He wants to see a better environment for pedestrians in the CBD.
Many might think that the four challengers to Mayor Damien Ryan have entered into a strategic alliance to oust him. Not so, says Steve Brown, going so far as to criticise the capabilities of his main rival in the conservative camp, Alderman Eli Melky.
Ald Melky refrains from doing the same, even copping on the chin Mr Brown's criticism of his being "green" (in the sense of young and inexperienced) and "muddled" . But Ald Melky says Mr Brown and Dave Douglas, neither of whom have served on council, will face the same challenges as he did 12 months ago, when he was elected following a by-election. His advantage over them now is that he understands council processes, including what goes on "behind closed doors".
Mr Brown says "political experience" as well as experience of the town and its issues are what counts and that there's "no comparison" between him and Ald Melky.
"I know the issues and understand the town and its politics intimately. Eli Melky gets himself muddled and confused. His heart is in the right place but he doesn't know how to put up a good argument.
"If he sticks around for a few more years he'll become a good candidate."
Meanwhile, they are both trying to brand Mayor Ryan as a "Labor man", as Labor-affilated candidate Vince Jeisman has been handing out his how-to-vote cards at pre-polling.
So have a number of other candidates, says Mayor Ryan.
He says he works diligently with the NT Labor Government to get I can for the town" and wants to know how Steve Brown thinks he'll do the top job without doing the same. KIERAN FINNANE reports.
She is a cancer patient in the Otway Health clinic at Apollo Bay, Victoria, but her heart and mind often drift to Alice Springs, whose Mayor she was for nine years, elected to follow George Smith in 1983 and re-elected three times.
In all Leslie Oldfield served on the town council for 15 years.
Her surname became Huggins when she married Alan in 1993, at the Old Timers.
Although she left town almost 20 years ago she keeps in touch, and is a little bemused and worried about the current poisonous atmosphere in local government.
There were many disagreements at council meetings in her time, but "it used to be a friendly thing.
"We'd bicker and then shake hands."
Her friend and fundraiser for the centre, Katrina Kiely, says Mrs Huggins has an aggressive strain of inoperable cancer.
But tomorrow she will have her hair shaved to raise funds for a children's charity, the Leukaemia Foundation.
"I don't have much hair left but they can take the rest," she says.
Her strong spirit has not deserted her. And neither has her sense of humor. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. PHOTOS: Mayor Oldfield and her town; with husband Alan.
UPDATE: Leslie Huggins (formerly Oldfield) and husband Alan, inspired by her courage, have gone under the razor for the World's Greatest Shave Day. In their small community $3000 was raised for the Leukaemia Foundation. Mrs Huggins received a surprise call on the day from Kamahl, wishing her all the best.
While most of Alice is grumbling about the decline of the tourism industry, a new wing worth more than $3m of the Flying Doctor base is nearing completion.
It includes a mini department store, with a life-size replica of the service's Pilatus PC12 workhorse (you can sit in the pilot's seat), and a 70 seat theater fitted with all that opens and shuts for watching movies to video, audio and data links for remote conferencing.
Manager Michael Toomey says the store will be an upgrade of the souvenir shop and benefit from "co-branding" with R M Williams.
The theatre will be where visitors watch the movie about the legendary service founded by Reverend John Flynn in 1928 with a De Havilland DH50 aircraft leased from Qantas for which he paid two shillings per mile flown.
Today the service has 61 aircraft around Australia and employs 900 people.
Alice has a staff of 20 (in the aviation side) plus 10 (in the tourism side), and four PC12s worth $6.5m each when new.
The Swiss-built turbine powered planes are well suited for dirt strips and are powerful enough to take off from relatively short runways.
Although the "flying doctor" label is only half true these days – the doctors and the tasking comes from the NT Department of Health – the organisation continues to make the most of its glorious history, while expanding its services to the local community. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. PICTURE: Mr Toomey at the entrance to the new building which takes its inspiration from an aircraft wing and struts. The semi-circular entrance hints at the shape of a hangar.
An exhibition on the theme of women architects, town planners and landscape architects in Central Australia ran the risk of being a little thin, feared Anne Scherer when she voluntarily took on the task to mark Australian Women's History Month – March, of course – at the National Pioneer Women's Hall of Fame.
The theme is set nationally by the Australian Women's History Forum. Ms Scherer was well aware of architect Susan Dugdale, whose imprint can be seen in many corners of Alice Springs, but who else? She uncovered quite a diverse history, including the existence of Helen Tippett, likely to have been the first female architect to practice in town, back in the 1950s, after completing her training in Melbourne.
Ms Scherer's research, attractively presented in the women's cell block of the old gaol that houses the Hall of Fame, reminds us of other women who have left their mark in different ways on the built environment of Alice Springs, broadening the terms of the exhibition to include artists such as Cedar Prest, Kaye Kessing, Pip McManus, and Sally Mumford.
Susan Dugdale, who arrived in Alice in 1994, establishing her own practice in 2000, was present at the opening on Sunday. She reflected on what had made her stay – it came down to job satisfaction, being able to make a contribution through her designs to people's lives. She contrasted her last Melbourne job, which was working on a four bedroom house renovation for a couple whose children had left home, with the social purposefulness of many of the projects she has worked on here. KIERAN FINNANE reports.
Pictured, left to right: Creator of the exhibition, Anne Scherer with architects Miriam Wallace and Susan Dugdale.
When Australian novelist Kate Grenville opened Obscured by Light, a collaborative exhibition by Pamela Lofts and Kim Mahood showing at Araluen, she referred to the landscape that they have made their stage as the "scary stuff". It was lightly said but nonetheless an interesting echo of the long held popular conception of the Australian interior as a great and threatening unknown.
A merit of the Lofts and Mahood show is its playfulness and humour in counterbalance to this kind of apprehension, even if there is mostly a comically satiric flavour to their antics in the Tanami Desert. These are mostly enacted by one Violet Sunset (performed by Mahood), a parody of the feminine in gorgeous cocktail frock and kitten heels, created and directed by Lofts. Sometimes though, Mahood the artist and child of the desert peeps through and this sets quite a different emotional tone for the work.
Lofts' photographic images are as gorgeous as the frock – saturated colour, high gloss – and finely attuned to both the drama of the landscape and the story-telling nature of the enterprise. Lofts excels at work in this vein: viewers may recall her wonderfully evocative Country Love series, and more recently, the haunting Requiem for Another. KIERAN FINNANE reviews.