CWA’s co-op op shop bid fails

Headshot of Elise Van Aken
Elise Van AkenMidwest Times
The old co-op building in Coorow.
Camera IconThe old co-op building in Coorow. Credit: Shire of Coorow

A Mid West council has rejected the local Country Women’s Association’s bid to open an op shop in a vacant building on the town’s main street.

The Shire of Coorow Council instead earmarked its use for a second museum capturing the town’s history by the Coorow Heritage Group, despite no formal plans being submitted for the project.

At the December ordinary council meeting, Coorow Shire acting chief executive Myra Henry recommended that the council approve the request for the establishment of an op shop in the “old co-op building”, which it had owned since 2007.

The Coorow Waddy CWA proposed to operate the op shop one or two days a week on a members’ roster basis, with all funds raised to go back into the community.

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The proposal included a request for the installation of ceiling fans and water in the 93-year-old building, which had gone unused since the 1990s.

Ms Henry said the Shire continued to seek grant funding opportunities for a refurbishment of the building, and while the council did not have an adopted plan for the future use of the building, it was “widely known” the Coorow Heritage Group had a significant interest in the building.

Coorow Heritage Group president Jan Muller and vice-president Guy Sims attended the meeting and gave an oral presentation about the group’s plans for the second museum.

The group helped partly restore the main street building in recent years, with a new roof installed in 2012.

Mrs Muller told the Midwest Times the CHG intended to work with the CWA — with the two groups having a crossover of members — to share the RSL building, which they believed would be more suitable for the op shop.

“The first museum will be opening at the RSL Memorial Hall on April 17,” said.

“The space we have there will show the town’s agricultural history.”

She said the second museum would focus on town history.

“We’re trying to do two things at once but wanted to put something together so the Shire knew our intentions and we could get the other museum done first.

“The idea is the CWA may use the RSL Hall.

“It’s on the main drag so they will still be able to get people coming through.”

She said the museums were an important part of preserving the history of “dying” country towns and attracting tourists for longer stays.

Cr Michael Bothe moved to allow the Coorow Heritage Group to establish a museum in the building which was carried unanimously.

The council resolved the museum would be a more beneficial community facility than an op shop and to direct the CWA to approach the Coorow Heritage Group for the possible use of the RSL building for the op shop.

Coorow Shire president Moira Girando told the Geraldton Guardian the council wanted the building to be utilised and were looking forward to the CHG progressing with the museum.

Cr Vern Muller declared an impartiality interest in the item due to his wife’s involvement with he Coorow Heritage Group.

The CWA could not be reached for comment.

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