Let me begin by expressing my deep sympathies to the family of superstock racer Stephen Penn.
A member of the Manawatū Mustangs, Stephen died while competing during the second night of the New Zealand Superstock Teams Champs at the International Speedway.
His funeral with full speedway honours took place at the CET Arena track last Thursday.
The Superstock Teams Champs is the biggest speedway event in the southern hemisphere, and this tragedy has profoundly affected event organisers and the wider speedway fraternity.
Speedway plays a huge role in Palmerston North's identity as well as benefiting the local economy, and the city shares in the grief of the family and this loss to the speedway community.
I applaud speedway organisers for their quick and responsible reaction to the fatal crash, and also the community for its outpouring of sympathy expressed through the Givealittle page set up for Stephen's family.
Reflecting on tragedies of a completely different nature, order and scale, there were terrific community turnouts to our Anzac Day commemorations. It was my privilege to speak at three services made possible by the recent change in the Covid traffic light setting to orange.
The day began at the combined dawn and civic service in front of the cenotaph on The Square / Te Marae o Hine – Courtyard of the Daughter of Peace.
I then attended the Soldiers' Memorial in Bunnythorpe for a mid-morning service, and at noon spoke at the memorial cairn on Ashhurst's Village Green. Deputy mayor Aleisha Rutherford was able to contribute to Ashhurst's dawn service.
My thanks to everyone who came to pay their respects to those who died, as well as acknowledge all who served and are serving, and to the Anzac organising teams from the Returned and Services Association.
Workers' Memorial Day – commemorating those who died as a result of accidents, injuries and illnesses incurred while at work – was held last Thursday at the Fitzroy St entrance to Memorial Park.
Attended by union members, politicians and the Salvation Army, the annual service provides a reminder that while everyone should expect to return from their day at work in one piece, workplace safety should never be taken for granted.
Five people in the wider Manawatū region died at work last year while 150 were badly injured.
On a more positive note, the orange traffic light setting is slowly seeing local events, functions and entertainment return, but please don't let your guard down and continue to take all safety precautions against Covid.
On Sunday, Premiership Netball returned to the Fly Palmy Arena with the Central Pulse pipped by the Northern Stars.
Jets basketball also began an extended NBL season of home games on Sunday evening against the Taranaki Airs, and will play the Southland Sharks this Sunday, with the Canterbury Rams here the following Friday.
The revised traffic light setting also means we can conduct public hearings on the city's proposed 2022–23 annual budget.
A further look at this is necessary due to rapidly increasing property values, huge hikes in the price of materials, and greater costs associated with providing services.
Any increase in city rates is going to compound the pressure on household incomes that are already under siege from mounting mortgage interest rates, rent, food and fuel expenses.
Residents are keenly aware of these factors and their impacts on home budgets.
In response to the council's appeal for feedback, we received more than 300 written submissions as well as hundreds of social media postings.
Nine sessions of hearings are scheduled this month for those who want to speak to their suggestions.
Councillors will be taking this input into consideration before making decisions that will guide the setting of rates. This in turn will affect the level of services, facilities, planning and development the council will be able to provide in 2022-23.
Thank you for your concern and involvement, and please remember wherever possible to buy local goods and services.
• Grant Smith is the mayor of Palmerston North.