Govt funding sought for rebuilds

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STEVE.ADDISON
@thenews.co.nz

Ranfurly may soon have $13million spent on upgrading key facilities as the town’s area school and hospital look to the Government to back much-needed rebuilding.

Maniototo Area School has an $8million business case before the Ministry of Education to rebuild many of the school’s tired and out-of-date buildings, while Maniototo Health Services is planning a $5million rebuild of its facilities.

A proposal for the rebuild has been worked through by a project group, supported by the ministry, Maniototo Area School board of trustees chairman Dave Hutton-Atkins said.

“The school is just run down and there are too many classes for our allocation.”

It was now a case of waiting to see what the ministry decided.

The board of trustees was hoping to build a school that would serve the community well for the next 50 years, he said.

Among the proposed changes are classrooms that support modern teaching methods, distance learning and the teaching of information technology.

General manager Geoff Foster said he was pleased to have received a letter from the Southern District Health Board supporting the planned hospital rebuild.

The company has more than $2million in cash reserves and with spirited community support is confident work will begin on the new hospital next year.

The hospital supports a population of just under 2000 people and also assists in dealing with accidents on the Otago Central Rail Trail.

The hospital was essential to the Maniototo community, given Ranfurly was more than an hour’s drive to Dunedin or Dunstan hospitals and with frequent heavy snow closing roads in winter, Mr Foster said.

“Geography is a big reason for us existing.”

Maniototo Health Services chairman Stuart Paterson said the new facilities would save the company more than $100,000 annually in expenditure as modern buildings would reduce energy consumption, maintenance costs and improve efficiency.

Under the redevelopment a new hospital building would be combined with the existing rest-home, which would be upgraded to modern standards.

The current hospital building was more than 80 years old and did not meet earthquake standards for a hospital, he said. The hospital is at 18% of the earthquake building code.

The company has approached the Maniototo Community Board and the Minister of Health, Jonathan Coleman, for financial assistance.

“We have had huge community [fundraising] support … everyone is focused on this at the moment,” Mr Paterson said.