Mayor Peter Roper cannot say thank you enough for the support offered to Alpine Shire during the recent bushfires, but last night he made a special gesture to neighbours from Wangaratta.
He and Alpine chief executive Charlie Bird attended Wangaratta's first council meeting for 2020 to present a letter of thanks and to address councillors in person.
"We all know how bad January was and we're all eternally grateful to Wangaratta and the Wangaratta Council, the community of Wangaratta and the community support groups around Wangaratta for facilitating the accommodation of our residents and our visitors," he said.
"We know it was a huge impost on you guys, but we are extremely thankful."
We all know how bad January was and we're all eternally grateful.Alpine mayor Peter Roper
Myrtleford and other parts of Alpine Shire were evacuated in January when towns were under threat from the serious bushfires.
This included about 300 people at Wangaratta Showgrounds and another 60 at the Wangaratta Performing Arts Centre.
Cr Roper said among the evacuated were also 260 animals, including a ferret, a goldfish, 100 horses, 29 dogs, 47 cats, two birds, 57 chooks, 10 ducks, eight geese, two donkeys and a pony.
"It was very important that they were also looked after," he said.
"When Bright was smoke-affected and we couldn't get our staff to work, you guys provided our staff with desks as well so they could work here (in Wangaratta) to help with the bushfire and do their jobs."
Alpine Council donated five $100 vouchers to be spent in the shire.
Wangaratta mayor Dean Rees said if the situation was revered, he is sure Alpine would have done the same.
He also thanked the city's emergency services and residents for their "incredible and selfless acts of generosity, compassion and kindness during the bushfire emergency".
"Wangaratta people gave their homes, donated money and offered support in so many ways that has left us very heartened," he said.
"We need you all and thank you so much, we couldn't have got through this without you."
Wangaratta will pay tribute to its CFA staff and volunteers at Sunday's AFL preseason game between Collingwood and Richmond when 300 firefighters complete a lap of honour.