The Border Watch : November 8th 2013
8 OPINION EDITORIAL IT IS hard to put an estimate on an exact monetary value as to what the Trident Tyres Legend of the Lakes Hill Climb is actually worth to the Mount Gambier economy. Now in its eighth year, the 2013 edition has attracted 220 entries, the most on record and almost every year race director Lionel Stingers - the brainchild behind the event - says “that’s it, I can’t take any more entries”. But every year he is proven wrong and the race just continues to grow. Back in 2006 when Stingers was nervously preparing for the fi rst hill climb, he could only have hoped for what the event has grown into. Placing an estimate on the worth of the race, consider the following. A vast majority of the entrants are from out of the area and must spend money on petrol, food and accommodation - sometimes for up to three nights. Very few entrants would travel separately, either being accompanied by family, friends, pit crew or fellow competitors. The event then attracts a multitude of spectators who in turn spend money at the turnstiles and kiosks while the event is in progress. The hill climb generates interest through a wide section of the community’s fund raising clubs and emergency services, while the media plays a large role in ensuring video footage, action photos, stories and results are distributed around the world. Because of modern technology, the world has become a smaller place than a generation ago. Today’s results will be available internationally within minutes. The event has also grown in stature that it is now almost on a fi rst name basis with anyone associated with it, it is simply the “legend.” While the event is a time trial rather than a race of one car against another or several, it does not mean there is a shortage of thrills and spills. If you are trackside at the Valley Lakes over the course of the next three days, simply fi nd a good vantage spot and let the “legend” come to you. VISIT US ONLINE borderwatch.com.au COMMENT No challenge too great for community crusader F GGRAHAM G FR GR GR FROM THE FRONT PORCH GREENWOOD WELL-KNOWN, high profi le orthopaedic surgeon Barney McCusker is somewhat of a local crusader. Over the years he has been involved in numerous battles - some political, some personal. SCOTT GROUP OF COMPANIES 538600 8 - The Border Watch, Friday, November 8, 2013 JACOB JACOBSON Sydney The wide range of local produce because there is plenty. ALEX BATT Sydney The sinkholes because they are really green and luscious. NIKKI MANFRIN Mount Gambier The Blue Lake because I can’t believe how blue it gets in the summer, it is incredible. He has lost a few, but even he would agree his biggest victory was surviving prostate cancer, yet while virtually fi ghting for his life he still found the energy and passion to continue to fi ght for community issues. Whether it is his embracing smile which greets patients in his surgery or the operating theatre, or his endless energy and enthusiasm in taking up a community issue, there is little doubt Barney enjoys a wonderful relationship with all levels of society. Barney burst into prominence during the height of the surgeons and specialists debacle back in 2003 when a number of local surgeons and specialists were not offered contracts to operate out of the Mount Gambier Hospital. These long-serving surgeons, who were strong spirited members of the community, were virtually forced out of the city by the State Labor Government to fi nd work elsewhere. They lost their way of life, their friends, neighbours, homes and jobs in what was a ruthless act by an insensitive government. STREET SWEEPER What is your favourite attraction in the South East and why? As the government refused one-by-one to renew these surgeons’ contracts, there was uproar from the community and a campaign for their reinstatement was organised. Despite also fi ghting to save his job, Barney McCusker went in to bat for his colleagues. Admittedly he could only go so far, but it is common knowledge he was tapped on the shoulder by those high up in the health department/ministry and warned to back off, otherwise his contract would be under threat. Despite this, in his own way, Barney somehow walked a tightrope, eventually gaining his contract, but through the proper channels still pushed for his colleagues’ reinstatement. Sadly, it was a battle he and the community lost. The surgeons and specialists all moved on and found better jobs and lifestyles elsewhere. While for Barney, new projects and challenges were just around the corner. A regular letter writer to the editor to this newspaper, The Australian and The Advertiser (which refuses to run his letters), Barney has tackled issues from improving health services to retaining the Royal Adelaide Hospital and of course local political matters. During the height of the forest sell-off plan, Barney was in his element, organising protests through letters to the press, and was active in helping organise as well as attending protest rallies here and in Adelaide. Among other projects, Barney’s passion to have a heated indoor pool in Mount While Barney and I are at odds over the pool, mainly over its running costs because the public appears unwilling to pay $170$200 on top of annual rate rises of about 6pc to run the pool, one has to admire his determination to achieve success. His latest project involves trying to secure a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MIR) scanner unit for the Mount Gambier Hospital. Hundreds, if not thousands of people have been forced to travel to either Adelaide or Warrnambool over the years because Mount Gambier doesn’t have one. Not surprisingly Adelaide has 17 and Barney argues that he alone refers about fi ve people each week to either of these two centres for an MRI scan. The city has been waiting for an MRI unit for more than 20 years and Barney says enough is enough and has called on politicians in Canberra to look more seriously at Mount Gambier’s predicament. Locally, Liberal candidate Troy Bell has organised a petition which, supported by newly elected Member for Barker Tony Pasin, will be presented to Parliament in Canberra. If Mr Pasin is able to successfully lobby his federal colleagues to fi nance an MRI unit for Mount Gambier it would be a huge coup. It would also be a just reward for Mount Gambier’s hard-working and loyal crusader Barney McCusker, who it seems doesn’t know the meaning of the word defeat. Gambier captured the public’s imagination, so much so that a petition he organised resulted in more than 1700 signatures being presented to the city council.
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November 12th 2013