Youngster drives lake action

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Lechelle Earl, owner/editor

Youngster drives lake action

Face-to-face lobbying by a local mother and her teenage son played a part in securing the anticipated reopening of the Millicent swimming lake next month at a cost of $100,000.

In unprecedented scenes at a Wattle Range Council meeting, 13-year-old Chad Cockrum was asked by elected members at last week’s council meeting about matters relating to the six-figure outlay.

Chad handled the questions from the likes of councillors Dennis Muhovics and Moira Neagle with aplomb as he explained the lake closure was a talking point among his classmates at Millicent High School.

Furthermore, Chad said the lake was a vital and popular recreational facility for the youth of the town.

According to Chad, opening the lake for the duration of the school holidays would be a satisfactory outcome as it was chiefly used by youth during the day.

His candid remarks drew high praise from Mayor Des Noll and the elected members with two acknowledging that such lobbying had contributed to changing their stance on the lake reopening.

The mayor pointed out that Chad was an articulate member of the Junior Advisory Council and his invaluable contribution provided council with the views of local young people.

“I will be writing to Chad,” Mayor Noll said.

His mother Tamara Cockrum had earlier outlined various reasons to reopen the lake via a PowerPoint presentation, but her son’s responses were off-the-cuff.

As a mother of four, employed at a local school and a lifelong Millicent resident, Ms Cockrum said she was well aware of the lake’s importance to locals and tourists alike.

At the end of the Cockrum delegation, Deputy Mayor Cr Peter Dunnicliff summed up the situation.

“We are desperately keen to keep the lake open, but we must be fiscally responsible,” Cr Dunnicliff said.

The delegation lasted 17 minutes and then the council went to a meal break at 6.35pm.

Debate on the swimming lake did not occur for another two hours and well after the Cockrums had left the meeting chamber.

When put to a vote, the motion to outlay the $100,000 and reopen the lake for the duration of the school holidays was easily passed by a clear margin of nine votes to two.

Prior to the vote, Crs Dale Price and Emma Castine had stated their reasons for opposing the reopening.

The SE Voice spoke to the Cockrums after the outcome of the lake vote was known.

“I am really pleased the council listened to the community,” Ms Cockrum said.

“I was encouraged to talk at the council meeting after I chatted with councillors Moira Neagle and Sharon Cox at the information stall at the Millicent Show.

“I was nervous at the meeting but I was able to make some vital points.

“I am happy to see the six-week swimming season but it would be great to see it extended by another couple of weeks.

“This would mean Millicent High School could have its annual swimming carnival here.

“We are booked in for Penola but that is only a 25-metre pool.”

Unlike his mother, Chad was not anxious about addressing the council and the gallery.

“It is very good the voices of young people are being listened to,” he said.

“I will be nominating again for the Youth Advisory Council in 2024.

“We ran a good disco, but I would like to see more entertainment options next year.

“I would like to see the supervised youth hub established in 2024.”

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