Healthy outlook for Whitianga town centre upgrade 22 May 2018 The works schedule for the Whitanga town centre upgrade is several weeks ahead of schedule, which is a healthy dose of good news for retailers and customers. And when it comes to maintaining a healthy outlook, you need go no further than Whitianga's Unichem Stephensons Pharmacy on the corner of Albert Street and Blacksmith Lane. It's one of the businesses affected due to the main street being closed to vehicle traffic while construction works progress. Owned by John and Jenny Stephenson for the past 39 years, Whitianga's Unichem Stephensons Pharmacy is a support line for many residents as it supplies essentials like prescriptions, vaccinations, blood testing and other health care services. With 12 staff including 3 pharmacists and 2 technicians, Unichem Pharmacy is a place where people often come first to discuss an issue. "We do one-on-one consultations and if we can't sort it we'll send the customer to the doctor," says John. And the business is open 7 days a week over the peak summer period. When John and Jenny first started the business one of the first things they did was install a mini-photo lab. "We’ve seen a lot of transformations in this part of the business with technology changing so dramatically," explains John. "So much is being done digitally, but we're keeping up with it and the photography section of our store is still very popular," he says. When it comes to change, John says what pharmacists can now provide compared to doctors has been a real revolution. "We can prescribe for things like oral contraception and erectile dysfunction," says John. "We're also trained to give vaccinations for things like flu and whooping cough, prescribe blood thinning medications and do blood testing." And John and his team are not adverse to change when it comes to the town centre upgrade. "While it's has meant more noise and the building has had a few shakes with all the heavy machinery, overall the impact to our business has been minimal," says John. "Dempsey Wood, the company doing the work, have been brilliant to deal with - they come in regularly to keep us up to date and we're extremely pleased that the work is also weeks ahead of schedule." A special mention about John and Jenny should be made for their outstanding contribution to the Mercury Bay community in their 39 years of owning the pharmacy. John has spent 30 years with the Whitianga Lions Club and just had his 39th year with the Mercury Bay Aero Club where he graciously accepted the honour of becoming a life member. The couple are also long-standing sponsors of the local golf club. John says he has more recently turned his focus to the Mercury Bay Community Fund which helps manage pensioner flats in Kennedy Ave. He's been involved with the fund for the past eight years. Pop in and see John and the team at Whitianga Unichem Stephensons Pharmacy at 64 Albert St or phone 07-866 5319. Works going on this week We're installing storm water drainage at the intersection of Albert and Lee street. We're continuing kerb placement to the west and east sides of Albert Street. We're preparing the footpath for paving blocks from Monk Street to Taylors Mistake. We're importing, placing and compacting road metal to form a new road base course layer. Chorus are putting in a copper cable to replace existing cable and connecting new cable to some shops. This will result in a ten-minute loss of phone service. The loss of phone service will be at different times per phone line or business. Most changeovers to the new line are completed and we haven't had any reports of out of service. This work is due to be completed this week. All shop owner affected will be notified prior to service interruption. We're constructing new pedestrian crossings to the east side of Albert Street. From Sunday evening 28 May we will be extending the road closure into Blacksmith Lane for the roadworks, which will take three weeks to complete and be finished by 11 June. We have been around to all the affected businesses and are installing more directional signage to redirect traffic into Campbell St and into Victoria St. Also remember the Whitianga half marathon is on next weekend. There are no road closures but marshalls will be in attendance and the road shoulders will be used by runners/walkers. Due to the town upgrades there has been a slight course detour up Victoria and Owen street instead of all the way to the end of Blacksmith Lane. You can find out more on their website here. Click here to view last month's progress on the town centre - so you can physically see the transformation going on. Thanks to the retailers and customers for their patience. Informer newspaper - buy local campaign The local Mercury Bay Informer newspaper is holding 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, they will draw one of the invoices/receipts out of all the entries they’ve receivedthat 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 componentof 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, final draw. The owner of the winning invoice/receipt 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.