Retiring Central Highlands councillor Penny Bulger (right) with Gemfields identity, Pat Villaroya.
Retiring Central Highlands councillor Penny Bulger (right) with Gemfields identity, Pat Villaroya.

Penny for her thoughts

WALKING away from a role she openly admits was "addictive" for more than a decade was no easy decision for outgoing Central Highlands councillor, Penny Bulger.

But after 12 years in the job, the popular councillor who was the community champion for better facilities at the Gemfields and Willows' townships, has called it quits for family reasons.

"I'm hanging up the boots, and it is with regret actually," Cr Bulger said.

"I'm just going to miss it tremendously, but it has been a decision I've come to and it has been a difficult one."

Cr Bulger, who for eight years was the lone female on the Emerald Shire Council prior to amalgamation, said she was proud of some of her achievements, and hopeful some stagnating projects would come to fruition for the outlying towns.

"The one that tops the list was the straw bale visitor information centre in Emerald," she said.

"It was quite an achievement to get that one up and it has stood the test of flood, so it's a resilient little building and I would hope we would showcase it more than what we're doing as an alternative building material.

"I'm very pleased to see there are local people enjoying the aged units at the Gemfields - it's fully occupied and we have a waiting list.

"One of the regrets I leave is we haven't been able to open up any residential land at the Gemfields, and that really saddens me.

"I would also have liked to see the intersection at Rubyvale addressed… it is dangerous without a doubt.

"One of the intersections we were able to address very early on was at the Willows Gemfields and that was put through with black spot funding before any fatalities."

Cr Bulger said she understood residents west of Emerald could feel disadvantaged by her leaving the council and she encouraged anyone with ambition to serve in local government to nominate for the March 31 election.

She added she had been unsuccessful in trying to coax candidates from the Gemfields and Willows, but her time post-election was going to be devoted to the care of her 93-year-old father, Ian Henry.

"I have actively targeted people and tried to interest them in taking it on," Cr Bulger, who also wants to dabble in portrait painting and gardening, said.

"Not everybody's cut out for life in local government. It's a different beast, but it's addictive and very, very hard to walk away from.

"I'm just not going to listen to the news, or read a paper for six months, otherwise I'm going to want to jump in the car."

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