Guyra poised to grow into regional centre, says new Armidale Regional Council CEO Susan Law

Guyra locals are “very keen to be part of growing the region,” Armidale Regional Council’s new CEO Susan Law said after a morning tea for new residents at Caffiends on Saturday.

LEADERS: New Armidale Regional Council CEO Susan Law with mayor Simon Murray on her first day at work. Photo: Laurie Bullock

LEADERS: New Armidale Regional Council CEO Susan Law with mayor Simon Murray on her first day at work. Photo: Laurie Bullock

“Agriculture, horticulture, linked with the university and the exciting research there, and the transport links to Armidale, means that [Guyra] is poised to grow and be a very vibrant centre.”

Ms Law pointed to the Malpas pipeline to Guyra, which fortified Costa’s decision last week to expand the tomato farm, bringing with it 150 jobs.

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“The Armidale region is bristling with opportunities,” Ms Law said.

“I’m really keen to be part of realizing those opportunities. Hopefully the people who live here, and in the region, will get behind some of the initiatives from council that would make that happen.”

Ms Law has been in the region just over a month. She took up her position with council on July 23, having run a consultancy business in Sydney.

NOTABLES: Guyra and District Chamber of Commerce president Hans Hietbrink with Armidale Regional Council's new CEO Susan Law. Robyn Jackson in background. Photo: Christine Gellie

NOTABLES: Guyra and District Chamber of Commerce president Hans Hietbrink with Armidale Regional Council's new CEO Susan Law. Robyn Jackson in background. Photo: Christine Gellie

She has also worked in local government in New Zealand, South Africa, and the UK. She has been General Manager Health Care Otago (NZ); chief executive at both Adelaide City Council and the City of Charles Sturt; World Bank advisor to the mayor of Cape Town; and Wokingham Borough Council’s (UK) chief executive.

“I love New England!” Ms Law said. “Apart from the cold – I'm still acclimatizing! – but it's beautiful, and has so much to offer in terms of the outdoor life, as well as in the city centre. I can indulge my love of opera and music, as well as hiking. It's got everything;”

Also present at the morning tea was Guyra dentist John Cividin. After a year in town, he no longer considers himself a newcomer.

DENTIST: John Cividin, with Trevor Esplin and Steve Mepham. Photo: Christine Gellie

DENTIST: John Cividin, with Trevor Esplin and Steve Mepham. Photo: Christine Gellie

“I’ve blended in quite well,” he said. “The people are very hospitable, and I feel this is a fairly extended family now!”

Like Ms Law, he was optimistic about Guyra’s future.

“It's a progressive town,” he said. “A lot of young people are moving in, so, although we've got an aged population, it's dynamic. We've got potential; the abbatoir looks like it's going to happen, so the town could quite easily double in size.”

Originally from Brisbane, Dr Cividin spent the previous 22 years practising in Lightning Ridge, in north-western NSW.

He tired of sweltering summers, and migrated south.

“Last summer was atrocious!” he said. “We had six weeks of 50-degree days. It’s not my sort of environment any more, at my age! I like a nice, temperate climate – maximum of 30 maybe, and only a couple of days of that; and the rest is European. We get the snow and the breezes here. I love it!”

LOCAL: Robyn Jackson speaking - From front John Cividin, Christine Hietbrink, Steve Mepham, Adam Marshall, Hans Hietbrink, Robyn Jackson, Susan Law. Photo: Christine Gellie

LOCAL: Robyn Jackson speaking - From front John Cividin, Christine Hietbrink, Steve Mepham, Adam Marshall, Hans Hietbrink, Robyn Jackson, Susan Law. Photo: Christine Gellie

Dr Cividin is the first dentist in Guyra for many years.

“I’m here for the long term,” Dr Cividin said. “The work is pretty steady, now. It took a while to build it up, of course, and get known.

“Eventually, I hope to build up to a two-man practice, where I can only do two or three days a week, as a hobby. The young feller or woman I'll employ can take the bulk of the work.

“I want to get on the land, and breed racehorses!  I've been successful at that over the years, and I just want to do it up here in the colder climes, where you breed a superior animal.”

He bred the Townsville Cup winner and the King's Cup winner, only a couple of years ago.

"I did that on a shoestring budget; it was very cheap!  Up here, in the colder climes, I reckon I can breed a real cracker."

Dr Cividin’s other hobbies include opal mining, flying planes, fishing, and gardening.

Northern Tablelands MP Adam Marshall, Guyra and District Chamber of Commerce president Hans Hietbrink, and his wife Chris were also present.

Paul and Christine Gellie, Trevor, Tricia, and Christopher Esplin, Robyn Jackson, Steve Mepham, Martha Weiderman, David Mills, Brigzahoor Ahmed, and Asim Shahid also attended.