Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Retreat Impressions

Well, I just got back from the Fayette County Commission retreat at Callaway Gardens. I have family in the area so I went down Tuesday thinking I might go to that night’s introductory session. Spending time with my cousin beat out sitting with the Commissioners. I very much enjoyed dinner and yakking with my cuz…

Today I was up bright and early in order to get to the conference center with a bit of time to spare. I decided to grab a bit of breakfast at the Center since my cousin’s refrigerator held nothing that enticed me. The buffet was $11.95. I had a cup of hot tea and, after looking at the just-as-pricey menu with nothing that sounded good so I ended up paying for the buffet just to get some eggs and grits. I waved to the Commissioners and staff who were already enjoying the buffet.

When I finished and got down to the conference room they had a full spread of fruit, cereal, milk, croissants with cheese and some kind of meat, yogurt, coffee, tea and all kinds of goodies. I knew they’d have food, but I didn’t expect a full-blown meal. Most of the food went to waste unfortunately as all but one savvy reporter from the Citizen ate breakfast.

The Commissioners got down to business on time or close to on time. First they did an exercise with some shapes, you can watch our YouTube video to see them grappling with that one. There was a good purpose and a good message that went with everyone working together to build a square with the shapes. Afterwards, a short film, also designed to convey a message and set the tone.

Then they got down to the business of fine-tuning a vision statement, a value statement and a mission statement. That ate up quite a bit of time. Still it was interesting. At times.

A late night of talking combined with sleeping in a strange bed and an early morning combined to have me yawning before they finished with the statements. Finally we were ready to move on to some of the REAL issues on the two page agenda. There were 13 items listed, many with multiple sub headings. The items listed included weighty matters like the judicial circuit, a future industrial park, the recreation plan and other items including space utilization of the judicial center, full-time vs. part-time magistrate court, transportation. The kind of stuff that makes a reporter’s eyes light up and the pen zip across the page…

Ah well, most of those topics will have to wait to another day. Time ran out before they touched on most of those items.

One interesting item that won’t cause your eyes to glaze over (hopefully) was the topic of “Selection Process for Staff Attorney.” I’ll be writing a separate blog on that one and you’ll be able to watch it on one of our videos. Here’s the end result in a few short lines. There’s going to be a committee of county department heads, the Sheriff and a representative from the Board of Tax Assessors who will review all the applicants. The Board of Commissioners will get the top three to five. They expect at a minimum that the process will take 45 – 60 days. They haven’t decided on the exact compensation yet. They’re working on a job description.

There was a lot of talk about procedures, staff direction, finances and related. We’ll be pulling some of the more interesting discussions from our multi-hour video of the day for you. One thing that stood out from the discussion of the Capital Improvement Program (CIP) and finances in my sleep-deprived brain was that the last Board left the County in great condition. Video cameras are great when you didn’t quite get enough sleep or your mind wanders! By the time the video has been condensed into YouTube segments there won’t be much that isn’t permanently seared into the old gray matter!

At the end of the day, the moderator told everyone they’d done a great job. The Chairman thanked everyone for coming and said he agreed they’d accomplished a lot. He thanked the three Fayette County citizens who made the trek down to Callaway for coming and said he wished that more citizens would have come. By the way, there will be a second retreat to finish up the items they didn’t get to. That meeting will be held on August 20th at the County Complex starting at 8:30 a.m. Given that a one hour drive isn’t involved, maybe more citizens will decide to come.

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