Marine Rescue to celebrate support for tower
AFTER feeling like they have been on the back-burner for so long, the volunteers of Ballina's Marine Rescue unit are bringing out the four-burner barbecue and shouting snags this Sunday at the tower.
The barbie is to celebrate the community's support of the unit's long-running struggle to get funding to replace the now-closed leaning tower on North Wall, which ended last week when it was announced the State Government had coughed up an extra $415,000 for the new $2.1m tower. The State Government chipped in $215,000 while Ballina MP Tamara Smith secured an extra $200,000 in grant money.
Tenders were called for the new building last week and Ballina's mayor, Cr David Wright, said it was hoped it would be completed on the sand dunes at the southern end of Lighthouse Beach next year.
Commander of Ballina's Marine Rescue unit, John Donoghue, while thanking Ms Smith for her work in breaking the funding "standstill", also said the funding wouldn't have happened without the support of the community.
Cmdr Donoghue and volunteer Kevin Thompson are the only two current members of Ballina's Marine Rescue unit who were around when, in 1998, the unit met with the council about the lean on the old tower.
The campaign has involved a community gala day in 2008 when community members joined hands along North Wall to show support for a new tower, and a petition last year which attracted 5000 signatures.
Along the way, local service clubs and other organisations have donated money to Marine Rescue for the fit-out of the new tower.
The council had set aside a tick over $1m to the project about four years ago, while Marine Rescue NSW gave $200,000.
The project has been ready to go for a while, but Cr Wright had said the council didn't want to start work on the State asset, on Crown land, until all funds were secured. He donated a bottle of champagne to be opened once the new tower is built.
Free snags will be handed out on Sunday, 9am-1pm, and you can also buy tickets in a Marine Rescue raffle, with a Quintrex 4.5m tinnie with outboard and trailer as first prize. It will be drawn at 1pm.