The year 2017 has been a year full of achievements, success and celebration for the Northern Grampians Shire Council and the community it represents.
In June this year, we announced an exciting partnership between Neoen Energy, Nectar Farms and the state government, which will not only establish a world-first paired energy and farming facility, but will also deliver hundreds of jobs to our region in a much-needed boost for employment and investment.
In another major win for our region, we finally tackled the issue of the Stawell tyre stockpile.
In a fantastic working partnership with the EPA, CFA and local contractors, this major environmental hazard and lingering threat to our community was finally cleared, with a total of 9500 tonnes of tyre material - equating to around one million tyres - transported off-site and recycled at a facility in Somerton.
Finally, just this week, we received more positive news in terms of jobs and growth for the Northern Grampians Shire, with the Stawell Gold Mine's new owners announcing plans to return the mine to full production by expanding upon existing exploration schedules.
A number of our existing businesses were also commended for their outstanding service and success as a part of the 2017 Neoen Grampians Pyrenees Business Awards - an event which our shire hosted this year, to great success and much praise.
Finally, the council continues to seek avenues which reduce our costs while maintaining high levels of service to the community in order to combat the restrictions placed upon us by rate capping.
Already, the council has identified a number of ways in which we can reduce our costs, while delivering the same high levels of service to our residents.
This process will extend into 2018, and the council looks forward to engaging with and informing the community throughout these service reviews.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, I would like to wish all our residents a very Merry Christmas, and a safe, happy and healthy new year.
I look forward to again working with the Northern Grampians Shire community in 2018 to ensure our region continues to prosper for years to come.
Cr Tony Driscoll, Northern Grampians Shire Council