Change for good - Local shopkeeper gets behind Whitianga town centre upgrade 24 April 2018 Derek Collier (pictured below) has seen a lot of changes around Whitianga's town centre since he became the owner of "Whitianga Sports," on Albert St 33 years ago. The latest change he's taking a keen interest in is the main street upgrade. With construction now in its third week Derek hasn't noticed any huge effect on shop traffic. Customers still like to come in for a browse and to buy what they need, although wet, rainy days can be a little quieter. "I'm a real supporter of the upgrade," says Derek. "This work is well overdue and had to be done. It will be great for the town's image. I think people don't fully understand the benefits the upgrade will generate. There is still going to be parking in Albert Street and outside most of the shops, and there's actually been more carparks created than what's being taken away." Derek sells a large range of fishing, diving, darts and racket sports equipment. He's even the person you go to for changing your watch batteries. His customers range from anyone interested in sporting activities to those shopping for gifts or just browsing for an occasion or event. When it comes to his contribution to the community, Derek is extremely modest. But he's been a member of the Whitianga Fire Service for the last 31 years and has received a 25-year gold service award. Derek's latest contribution is offering a $100 voucher for local newspaper The Informer's Buy Local campaign. Works going on this week The first section of Albert Street (from Monk St to Lee St), including a section of Taylor’s Mistake continues to be fenced off from vehicle traffic until July. We're trialling water valve and mains pressures and excavating and installing new potable water supplies to shop fronts and new future-proof fibre to shop fronts. This work will be completed out of business hours. We’re continuing excavation and installation of 900mm stormwater line from Taylors Mistake heading towards Monk Street. We're excavating a new footpath to subgrade level West side of Albert Street. We're installing street light ducting and subsoil drainage. We've put up additional signage around the town to let people know about getting access to businesses that are open within the affected road closure site. We've had calls about street lighting being out around parts of the town. This has nothing to do with the Town Centre upgrade. We understand Powerco, who is responsible for power supply, is dealing with some circuit faults. After the recent power outages in Auckland, there is a backlog of fixing faults throughout the country. Powerco has been alerted to the issues. We're working with a couple of businesses around the Lee St carpark to manage truck deliveries. The additional carparks that were put in are to legal marking and signage standards. Buy Local Campaign The local Mercury Bay Informer newspaper is running a “Buy Local and Win” competition. The aim is to support the local business community through a less than ideal time. To win is easy. Simply drop proof of your support of a Whitianga business (any business, not just those along Albert Street) into the large bin on the front verandah of their office in Monk Street, Whitianga. Proof can be in the form of an invoice or receipt. Please write your name and phone number on the invoice or receipt. On the last day of every month, the Informer will draw one of the invoices/receipts out of all the entries they’ve received that month. The owner of the winning invoice/receipt will receive a $100 voucher to spend at any of the advertisers that have advertised in The Informer during that month. The Informer will run the competition for eight months, until the end of November, when the Albert Street component of the Whitianga town centre upgrade is expected to be completed. But that’s not all. There will be a second chance to win. As soon as Albert Street is open for traffic again, all the entries they’ve received over the eight month period will go into another, bonus draw. The winner will this time around receive $500 to spend at any of the businesses that have advertised in The Informer during the period Albert Street was closed for traffic. The more regularly you buy local, the better chance you have to win.