NORTHERN Grampians Shire chief executive Liana Thompson has reflected on a whirlwind of a year in 2020.
The former director at Whittlesea Council, Ms Thompson joined the shire in late 2019.
Ms Thompson said since moving to the region she has been welcomed 'so warmly' by the community and councillors.
"What a way to start my time at Northern Grampians," she said.
"I'm so proud of the organisation of how people go above and beyond.
"I know people say above and beyond all the time but truly, we have people who do amazing things for our community. I love that.
"The resilience that they've shown during COVID-19 is breathtaking."
Ms Thompson said 2020 certainly wasn't the year she expected - the same feeling as most people across the region.
"If I think back to my interview I think I've done a lot of things that I talked about," she said.
"Those things include talking about economic development, getting the organisation working well together, building connections with community and council and show value for money within the community in terms of rates.
"Those are the things I spoke about in my interview and I have done those."
Ms Thompson said releasing the council's action plan enabled residents to keep up to date with how the council is performing.
"You can clearly see three items on there were red at the moment," she said.
"It's about being honest. Some things are in our control and we can fix them. Sometimes we stuff things up and sometimes we get things right.
"I have done far more than I've anticipated in a shorter period of time. Having to work during the COVID-19 time really tested all of us.
"We have been working crazy hours. We've been working up to 14 hours a day, most days.
"We continued on with all service. There wasn't one blip in service other than when we had the doors closed in the customer service centres."
Ms Thompson said personally, she never thought when she came to Stawell she would be separated from her husband for such a long time.
"It's been tough," she said.
"I'm not going to lie and say it's been all jolly hockey sticks because it hasn't. It was really hard.
"I didn't see David for six months. I didn't see my mother for that period of time as well, and she had some major health issues that I was really worried about.
"But people here have looked after me which was beautiful."
Ms Thompson said she had made some "really great" friends in the area who she leaned on for support during the height of the pandemic.
"I could pick up the phone to them and just have a chat," she said. "Murray made me some sausage rolls. He and all the councillors have looked after me.
"There's many people I could pick up the phone and invite over for cocktails."
When asked if she would consider leaving and move back to Melbourne, Ms Thompson replied: "That's not my plan".
"I'm doing a bit of family time over the Christmas break. Not having any time off except for the Christmas period," she said.
"I'm doing both Christmases in Melbourne because both sets of parents are deciding that they are getting older and wanting to celebrate with us all.
"I'm trying to take the pressure off them, and of course, I love to cook."
Ms Thompson said she would still be focused on finishing off the year.
"I have a whole lot of rituals about finishing off a year and starting a new year and just let go over the past.
"I think there would be a lot of people who just really want to let go of 2020 and close that door.
"I'll be doing some planning to get on with the huge workload we've got."
Ms Thompson said she was looking forward to attending more events next year if restrictions allow.
"That's the thing I've missed this year," she said.
"I got to see quite a few people at the start and then COVID-19 hit and that stopped, and it stopped the conversation and meeting people face-to-face."
Ms Thompson wished all the shire's residents a Merry Christmas and a safe holiday period.
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