I am pleased and proud to be sending you greetings and a few personal words in this framework, which reflects the joint activity taking place in our communities.
With regard to education in Merhavim, we reached new heights of attainment and development this year. The partnership is involved in several educational projects in the fields of sport, music, informal education, and fostering excellence.
I welcome the opportunity that has been given to us to continue strengthening the superb education system that we have created, one that serves as a magnet for the entire region. Our activity spans the range of ages from early childhood through high school; a high percentage of our graduates earn impressive scores on their matriculation exams.
Last year Merhavim's master plan was completed.
The perspective on management of the Council's resources is currently a long-term one, one which has future goals in sight. We have introduced a strategic planning approach which is useful in consolidating and advancing significant areas of life; the general public and the various Council departments actively participate in thinking about future activity.
I am a great believer in cooperation as a spur to progress, and in the context of expanding the basket of services and regional projects that we offer to our residents, we have initiated cooperative activity with neighboring authorities.
The Ma'avarim Eshkol Merhavim Community Employment Center was founded this year at the Merhavim Community Center, with the goal of developing tools and infrastructures for employment and earning opportunities for the individual and the community. The Center will address the needs of individual wage-earners while also striving to assist and empower independent entrepreneurs in various areas.
Additionally, Merhavim's entrepreneurial community is being further served by a forum that was established for tourism entrepreneurs in the Council; we are providing the forum with the organizational infrastructure necessary to develop a work and business promotion plan, and with the requisite tourism space.
The need for tourism development dovetails with existing goals of various Merhavim projects aimed at preserving the area's ecology.
We are aware of the need for industry-oriented education and development, and for settlement and tourism activity that are compatible with efforts to preserve existing natural and environmental resources.
As you know, Israel's government ministries are in the process of slashing budgets.
Last summer's war demanded a tremendous investment of resources which are currently being directed toward the northern part of the country. We in Merhavim continue to strive on behalf of the welfare of the local community, across its various component age and sectoral sub-groups; we are trying, on our own, to develop the best possible range of services in order to ensure a higher quality of life, here in the Negev.
The Merhavim community receives substantial assistance toward projects for its various component sectors (e.g., veteran Israelis, women, youth) from the MetroWest community via Partnership 2000, and we deeply appreciate the goodwill, attentiveness and caring manifest in the partnership; we are particularly grateful to those whose hard work keeps this important relationship going.
May the coming year be a year of peace and blessings for the entire Jewish people, in Israel and the Diaspora.
I extend to you my warmest wishes for a good and fruitful year.
Head of the Regional Council, Merchavim and Partnership Chair