Karoonda council CEO Peter Smithson farewells community after 40 years of service

After 40 years with the District Council of Karoonda East Murray, chief executive officer (CEO) Peter Smithson will say goodbye to the Karoonda community this Friday, October 6.

Mr Smithson said it was the close-knit community he would miss most.

“There’s not too many CEOs who can walk to work,” he said.

“What I love about Karoonda is the peace and quiet and the sense of community. In a small town, you know who lives where and they all look out for each other.”

In 1976, as a fresh-faced, long-haired 19-year-old, Peter became administration officer for the then District Council of Karoonda.

Eighteen years later, he took on the role of District Clerk/Overseer in 1994, which become the CEO role that he holds today.

Mr Smithson said the job had changed dramatically over the years, changing focus and becoming more challenging.

“Initially, in the old days, it was the three R’s, being ‘roads, rates and rubbish’,” he said.

“Now it’s expanded more in recreation. People want nice parks and streetscapes and councils are charged with making this happen.”

In his time with council, Mr Smithson has seen the community through the good and bad times, including the erection of Karoonda’s famous ‘Big Ram’, the main street redevelopment and the clean-up after a big storm which hit the district hard in 2010.

One of Mr Smithson’s biggest highlights in the job was helping coordinate the centenary celebration program of events in 2011, which he described as “huge and well supported” by the whole community.

Mr Smithson said he was leaving the council at a time when economic opportunity was on its doorstep.

“For a council of our size, we’ve got limited resources but we use them well,” he said.

“We have affordable country land and The Bend Motorsport Park will provide plenty of opportunities.”

After his final day this Friday, October 6, Mr Smithson plans on moving to Goolwa where he can have more time to do the things he loves, including playing the guitar.

“I see it as a new chapter in my life… I’ve just enjoyed serving the community and doing my bit,” he said.