Man­ager’s last good­bye

Southern Riverina news - - NEWS - By James Ben­nett

Fri­day will mark the end of an era for the Jer­ilderie com­mu­nity, with the de­par­ture of Craig Mof­fitt from Mur­rumbidgee Coun­cil.

Mr Mof­fitt (pic­tured) has been at the helm of the lo­cal coun­cil for the last 13 years, ini­tially with Jer­ilderie Shire be­fore a merger to form Mur­rumbidgee Coun­cil in 2016.

Be­liev­ing it’s time for the newly merged coun­cil to have new blood in the top lead­er­ship role, the 68 year-old elected not to rene­go­ti­ate his con­tract ear­lier this year.

Fill­ing Mr Mof­fitt’s shoes from Mon­day will be John Scarce, who was re­cruited to Mur­rumbidgee Coun­cil from the City of Mor­den in Man­i­toba, Canada.

‘‘I’ve come to the re­tir­ing age and I feel this or­gan­i­sa­tion and my­self need a change,’’ Mr Mof­fitt said.

‘‘I’ll be in re­tire­ment or on an ex­tended hol­i­day for the first six months be­fore I choose what I want to do.

‘‘If I get bored I’ll look around to see what I can do in the field of lo­cal gov­ern­ment.

‘‘I’ll def­i­nitely miss the role, but re­tir­ing is the right thing.’’

Mr Mof­fitt ar­rived in Jer­ilderie in 2005 af­ter a 14 year stint as gen­eral man­ager of the for­mer Wakool Shire Coun­cil.

Dur­ing his farewell to coun­cil last week, Mr Mof­fitt re­flected on the achieve­ments he’s most proud of dur­ing his time as man­ager.

His high­lights in­clude form­ing a strong and re­silient coun­cil and com­mu­nity.

‘‘The first thing that stands out is the 48 rec­om­men­da­tions of a fo­cus re­view by the state gov­ern­ment that they said needed ad­dress­ing when I started.

‘‘We achieved all of those rec­om­men­da­tions in 18 months and it was a very neat start to my job here.

‘‘The re­designed li­brary is a brain­child of mine. The money was avail­able, the plans were fin­ished but they weren’t the plans for the li­brary we have now.

‘‘It was to be a dif­fer­ent li­brary in the main street, so we turned it into the prod­uct we have to­day by us­ing lo­cal de­sign and con­struc­tion tal­ent.

‘‘The third thing I’m happy with is the coun­cil of­fer to as­sist with the merger of the golf and bowls clubs, which were fail­ing in­di­vid­u­ally at the time.

‘‘It’s now a vi­brant club (in­clud­ing ten­nis and fish­ing) that prob­a­bly would not have sur­vived had they not merged, and that was a de­ci­sion of coun­cil to of­fer as­sis­tance.

‘‘The heart and soul of a com­mu­nity is the foot­ball and net­ball club, fol­lowed by medi- cal and then other clubs come in af­ter that. If you have vi­brant sport­ing clubs then you have a vi­brant com­mu­nity.’’

Mr Mof­fitt praised the Jer­ilderie com­mu­nity for its will­ing­ness to work to­gether to get things done.

He said the suc­cess of the com­mu­nity is sup­ported by its close re­la­tion­ship with coun­cil.

‘‘Jer­ilderie is a can-do com­mu­nity and coun­cil plays a piv­otal role in as­sist­ing that into achiev­ing things,’’ he said.

‘‘Jer­ilderie Shire had such a good name for be­ing close with its peo­ple, and be­ing able to work with them.

‘‘The big­gest is­sue we had with merg­ing was that we knew there was no place in the it­er­a­tion of Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment New South Wales for a one town shire; it was un­likely to sur­vive.’’

Mr Mof­fitt said one of the strong­est re­la­tion­ships he forged dur­ing his time with the coun­cil was with the late Terry Ho­gan, who was Mayor of Jer­ilderie Shire and chair­man of the Rive­rina and Mur­ray Re­gional Or­gan­i­sa­tion of Coun­cils.

Mr Ho­gan was mayor for eight years dur­ing Mr Mof­fitt’s ten­ure, and Mr Mof­fitt said he truly re­spected him.

‘‘Terry and I were hon­est with each other and that is what made our re­la­tion­ship healthy,’’ he said.

‘‘I’ve been able to carry that into my re­la­tion­ship with Ruth (McRae, who is the mayor of Mur­rumbidgee Coun­cil).’’

Mr Mof­fitt thanked his staff for the sup­port he’s re­ceived over the past 13 years, with par­tic­u­lar ref­er­ence to his long­time ex­ec­u­tive as­sis­tant Julie Conn.

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