Among the highlights of the 2017 Tenterfield Business and Tourism Excellence Awards on September 14 was recognition of the invaluable contribution to the local community over many years made by Col Mann.
Despite his lofty goals for the district, Mr Mann has always remained very down to earth, as illustrated by a story told by Mayor Peter Petty on awards night.
Cr Petty said Mr Mann was keen to take him up in his light plane to see the route of the proposed Transgrid high-power line some years back, but Cr Petty declined saying he prefers to keep his feet on the ground.
“I’ll stick a couple of pot plants on the floor of the plane then,” was the comeback.
Cr Petty presented Mr Mann with the 2017 Recognition Award for Service to the Community, an acknowledgement well-deserved, judging by the audience’s standing ovation.
Mr Mann came to the Tenterfield District with his parents when they acquired Mingoola Station in the 1960’s. His interest was in engineering rather than farming and he soon established a service station and automotive engineering business in Rouse Street, next to the School of Arts, later relocating to Railway Avenue where he continues to conduct his engineering business.
Mr Mann has always maintained an active interest in the Tenterfield community. He was a strong supporter of the TRAC (Training for Retail and Commerce) program when it was introduced into the local high school in the early 1990’s. This programme was unique in that it involved local employers paying the school to have a year 11 or 12 student receive training for one day a week for a school term.
Mr Mann was vice-chairman of the TRAC School/Community Committee of local employers and teachers that also developed a new TRAC automotive curriculum which he spearheaded. It was later adopted state-wide.
This TRAC program was the precursor to the existing Vocational Education Programme where Tenterfield was regarded as a beacon. People came from as far as Tasmania to see the programme in action.
The TRAC Automotive program was eventually recognised through the construction of the automotive workshop at the school, attracting more than $160,000 in grants.
Probably better known is Mr Mann’s involvement in the provision of hostel and nursing home care in Tenterfield for the aged and the infirm under what's now known as Tenterfield Care Centre.
The move to establish an aged care hostel and subsequently a nursing home in Tenterfield began in the 1980’s when then-CEO of the PAM Hospital, Doug Tinge, became aware of the availability of grant funds for aged care hostels. New England Health was considering closing the aged care section of the local hospital and re-locating its patients to homes away from Tenterfield.
Grant funding was duly applied for and a public meeting was called to form a committee to raise the necessary local funds to support the grant funding and enable the establishment of the facility to proceed. Mr Mann was elected chairman of the committee which then proceeded to raise thousand of dollars towards the project.
The Care Centre’s first project – Millrace Hostel – opened in March 1991. Its cost of approx $1.1m was funded by contributions from the Commonwealth Department of Community Services and Health $508,840, from the Tenterfield Shire Council $200,000 and from the Tenterfield community approx $300,000. Col chaired the committee which raised those funds. The initial 22 beds were supplemented by a 13 place extension in 1991 and six self care units were added in 1997.
Next came Haddington.
Initially the state government offered Tenterfield a multi purpose service to combine the hospital, Millrace Hostel, Home and Community Care Services and any other health care services which could be gathered in, to be administered by New England Health with all assets reverting to this body.
Tenterfield Care Centre refused to allow this to happen and its committee was told it would have to “accept full responsibility for its decision.” In effect this meant that Tenterfield would have to arrange for the care of nursing home classified patients itself, and that’s exactly what Mr Mann and his committee did.
Tenterfield Care Centre took on the task of establishing a nursing home in Tenterfield. Thanks to the track record of Mr Mann and his committee with the Millrace venture,the Commonwealth Government agreed to transfer the capital funding for an 18-bed nursing home facility from the state Multi Purpose Service to the Tenterfield Care Centre committee.
In May 2003 the 30 bed Haddington Nursing Home opened. In 2008 a 16 bed extension was added, and the home is now fully occupied.
Mr Mann has been the driving force behind the committee for all of its 22 years and has been instrumental in guiding the committee through the many trials and issues which it had to deal with, resulting in the provision of the town’s two beautiful first class aged care facilities.