Ellon & District councillor Gillian Owen has shared her highlights of 2017 in her New Year Message.
The message reads: "Christmas 2017 came at the end of an extremely busy year.
"For most of us this is always a joyful time, a time for family and friends and a time to thank people for their achievements and efforts over the year.
"Ellon and its surrounding villages are blessed with organisations who do so much for our communities from the Community Councils, Ellon Civic Pride, Nicer Newburgh Gardeners, the many Church Groups, The Boys & Girls Brigade, the Scouts and Guides, the Sports Clubs and many, many others who make a difference to our towns and villages and I would like to thank them all for what they do.
"The highlights for me in 2017 have to be the Election results. May saw the local government elections and I was extremely proud to be re-elected to serve the residents of the Ellon & District Ward. The results throughout Aberdeenshire were brilliant for the Scottish Conservatives and saw us leading and creating a new Administration with our Alliance partners.
"In June, Prime Minister Theresa May decided on a snap General Election and I was honoured to be asked by Colin Clark to be his Election Agent. The result was truly amazing and to see Colin now in Parliament is something I am very proud of.
"The landscape of Ellon continues to change and we saw the demolition of both academy buildings completed, and now where the buildings stood is clear space.
"A consultation took place at the end of November with what could be accommodated on that site. I think the one thing for sure that all residents wish to see is a new Health Centre and whilst that it is not in Aberdeenshire Council's gift it is something that both NHS Grampian and the Council are working closely on.
"The plans have been drawn up based on Community need, including assisted living units and some affordable housing. I am happy to see those needs being covered.
"Many residents have indicated they would like to see more shops but again the Council is not in a position to provide shops but what these plans will do is free up shop units in and around the town and hopefully this may encourage new traders into our existing town centre, which will help shape Ellon’s development.
"Ellon and its villages are relatively peaceful communities, but we do suffer with spasmodic crime that comes from the city. They tend to travel down the A90 pick a street and then try the doors and sadly they do tend to find doors open and then they create mayhem by invading our homes and stealing our possessions including our cars. The lesson must be - always secure your property, be it a car or your house.
"The other common complaint regarding anti-social behaviour; which not only effects the town but the villages of Newburgh, Foveran, Ythanbank and many country roads, is that of speeding traffic, both the Council and the Police use the ‘flashing speed sign’ which gives a smiley face to those vehicles driving the correct speed, but it also records the speeds. We should all set an example by travelling at the correct speed.
"The year has seen significant progress with the dualling of the route from Balmedie to Tipperty however, with all the diversions and the weather this has created significant issues and I do hope that as we approach the supposed finishing date of March 31 that the contractor is true to its word and that the road is opened on time! Time will tell but currently I am not convinced!
"The campaign to extend the dualling, ‘Why Stop at Ellon?’ continues to gather pace. NESTRANS has produced a further report which is now out for local consultation and is due to come to the Formartine Area Committee in January. I think transport solutions from Ellon onwards are crucial and the Toll of Birness must be upgraded as a matter of urgency.
"For me personally the latter part 2017 has been a time of great angst. After a routine MIR scan an issue was found and suddenly in October I was in ARI having a major operation, thankfully I was given the all clear and the Owen household was able to breathe a sigh of relief.
"I would like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to all those doctors and nurses that took care of me and to those locally who took over that care when I came home. I would also like to thank those that sent me get well soon messages, they helped no end. I’m phasing my return from January 8 and whilst I may not be as active as before straight away - I am on the way back!
"Finally, I wish everyone a healthy, happy, and prosperous 2018."