Well here we are halfway through the first month of 2018 and less than six months remain for us to Make a Difference.   As you read this, DGE Melisa Schrock will be busy at the International Assembly in San Diego, along with 528 classmates, receiving the training for her year as Governor of our Best of Friends District.  It’s hard to believe that a year ago, Loretta and I were there, going through intensive training and evening socials to prepare us for 2017-2018.  I await Melisa’s return to find out about her experience and learn about the new theme for her year.
It’s a great feeling to know that the bench strength of the district has improved with the addition of Frank Adamson of the Fonthill club.  Frank will follow Bob Artis as District Governor in 2020-2021.  Now if we could only get more of our clubs creating their succession plans to have President Elects and President Elect Elects in place each year.  Hats off to those clubs who have managed to do this.
I’m very anxious to see our membership numbers later this month to see if we posted a gain at the conclusion of the calendar year.  Rotary International dues are based on club membership numbers on January 1st. Many terminations take place at that time so that dues are not paid unnecessarily for those who are no longer active Rotarians.  I’m hopeful that our modest gain at the end of November buoyed by the chartering of the Rotary E-Club of Social Innovators (RESI) with 40 members from various parts of the world, will have a most positive effect.  Kudos to the group that worked so diligently to have such impressive numbers and to the co-sponsoring clubs, the Rotary Club of Brantford and the Rotary Club of Brantford Sunrise.
We’re in the very early stages of developing a new strategic plan for the district and plan to have it ready for presentation to District Council at the next meeting on April 7th.  Under the leadership of IPDG Marlee Diehl, a team of dedicated Rotarians have agreed to complete the work in this ambitious time frame. 
An ad hoc committee of Bob Morrow and PDG Kevin Crosby will have presented some revisions to our current Areas for Assistant Governors to the January 13th District Council meeting; decisions and timing will be announced shortly.  Another ad hoc committee is about to launch and examine our District website and determine what if any changes are necessary to make it better for both our internal district audience and our external audience.  Thanks so much to Pene Hutton, Paul McAfee, Tamara Coleman-Lawrie, Melissa Wells and Patti Buckley for volunteering their time and energy.
As usual at this time of year, completing registration for both PETS and Multi District PETS with our two neighboring districts, 7070 and 7080, is a challenge.  Even the no cost on-line sessions later this month and in early February don’t have registration anywhere near complete from our clubs.  I urge all club presidents or president elects to please register.
Work is progressing extremely well for Club Leadership Training on May 5th at Erie Community College in downtown Buffalo.  Anne Bermingham’s team are ahead of schedule in creating a ‘don’t miss’ day for all Rotarians.  Watch for information about this day. There’s development opportunities for everyone, club leaders and members alike.
To conclude, I wish to thank our District Leadership Team, our 68 clubs and all Rotarians for a great start to our year of Making a Difference.  I’m so amazed at the incredible difference we make in all our communities and around the world.  It has truly been an incredible journey for Loretta and I and we wish each of you good health, happiness and success as we begin yet another calendar year!