THE sporting dreams of two teenagers, a massive boost to Weethalle’s sport and community facilities and a local history walk for West Wyalong residents and visitors to the town have become a reality thanks to grants announced today by the Federal Member for Riverina and Deputy Prime Minister, Michael McCormack.

“These six grants, totalling $185,386, make a real difference to many people in the Weethalle and West Wyalong communities,” Mr McCormack said.

Mr McCormack visited Weethalle on Tuesday to announce a $46,186 grant to the Weethalle Recreation Ground Committee to upgrade the sportsground surface through the Community Sport Infrastructure Grants program and a $60,000 grant to Bland Shire Council through the Drought Communities Program to build a multi-purpose shed at the recreation ground for the upcoming Country Music Muster and future annual and one-off events.

Another $60,000 grant through the Drought Communities Program will upgrade a public toilet and septic system on Railway Street to help cope with increased use coming from people visiting Weethalle to see the popular silo artwork.

“The people of Weethalle have worked hard to improve their town and are battling harsh drought conditions so they deserve all the support we can give them,” Mr McCormack said.

Mr McCormack said Bland Shire Council had received $18,000 through the Stronger Communities Program for the development of a $50,000 Local History Walk at West Wyalong.

The walk will celebrate and capture local history by telling the stories of the West Wyalong district’s pioneering families and significant individuals who have contributed to the history and fabric of the community.

“This walk will benefit local residents by educating them about their rich history and will attract visitors, which will boost the local economy and create jobs,” Mr McCormack said.

While in Weethalle, Mr McCormack congratulated 15-year-old Elizabeth Rutledge on her $650 grant though the Local Sporting Champions program which helped defray the costs of attending the All Schools AFL Under 15 Championships in South Australia.

Mr McCormack also met 13-year-old rugby player Max Harland in West Wyalong to congratulate him on receiving a $550 grant which helped with the costs of attending a state championship at Forster on the NSW central coast.

Elizabeth and Max are among 33 young athletes from across the Riverina and Central West who were successful in receiving a total of $20,650 in funding from the Federal Government through the latest round of the Local Sporting Champions program which over the past year has delivered grants totalling $44,650 to 76 talented young athletes aged between 12 and 18 years old.

Mr McCormack said the Liberal and Nationals’ Government was committed to helping the next generation of sports stars achieve their dreams.

“These grants will go a long way to helping our talented youngsters compete on a broader scale, whether it is at a national or state championship or indeed on the international stage,” Mr McCormack said.

“This program is a great initiative from the Federal Government and I am proud to be able to deliver this money to help nurture and develop our future sports stars.”

Shane Manning