04/25/05 — Panel reviews Strategic Plan

View Archive

Panel reviews Strategic Plan

By Barbara Arntsen
Published in News on April 25, 2005 1:48 PM

After nearly a decade, the team that put together Wayne County's Strategic Plan has reunited to review the county's progress toward the goals set in the document.

County Manager Lee Smith presented an update on the plan last week to members of the Strategic Planning Steering Committee.

"Their expressions told me that they realized the work was worthwhile, and that it wasn't a plan we put on a shelf to gather dust," Smith said.

Work on the plan began nine years ago when the county commissioners asked a group of business and civic leaders to develop a plan identifying the county's most pressing issues, and to suggest ways to address them.

Although there were only 17 members of the core group, the formation of sub-committees and input from residents during public forums brought the number of people involved in developing the plan to about 300.

In 1997, the committee presented the commissioners with a 25-page plan. It contained 12 priorities, including education, economic development, land use, water and sewer infrastructure, health care and public safety.

In 1999, the county was hit hard by the floods of Hurricane Floyd and spent most of the next three years recovering from the damage. Work on the plan slowed.

When Smith came on board as manager in 2002, the first thing the commissioners did was hand him the strategic plan.

"They gave me the plan and said, 'Here are some things we want done,'" Smith said.

After reading it, Smith said he realized that the Strategic Planning Committee had put together a plan that the county could, and should, follow.

"All the things we're doing sprung out of the strategic plan," he said. "I used it to help develop a work plan."

Smith said the county has followed the plan to develop a number of initiatives. They include:

*An assessment of all county facilities, including the need for additional industrial land and speculative buildings.

*Building two speculative industrial buildings, in Goldsboro and Mount Olive.

*Development of a public and private partnership for economic development, including the creation of a "score card" to track efforts.

*Development and adoption of a formal 10-year capital improvement plan.

*The hiring of a consulting firm to develop short- and long-term debt service strategies.

*Contracted with Glen Harbeck & Associates to conduct a county-wide comprehensive land use planning process to include transportation, land use, housing, utilities, community facilities, agricultural, natural and cultural resources, economic development and intergovernmental cooperation.

*Adoption of the an ordinance for the protection of farmland.

*Infrastructure mapping.

*Formation of a county transportation committee

*Assessment of transportation needs for senior citizens.

*Updating a health assessment denoting areas of concern.

*Hired a new Services on Aging director. The county is in the process of gaining certification for the Senior Center.

*Formed the Goldsboro Youth Council through Goldsboro Community Affairs. Community in Schools was formed offering Teen Court, tutoring, Teen Health Corps and mentoring for high-risk children.

*Formed a Hispanic/Latino council to conduct assessments of county services and language/cultural barriers.

*Conducted an assessment of the detention center with recommendations for construction of additional inmate beds based on inmate population growth. Local committee is reviewing options for inmate and court alternatives to reduce space problems.

*Merged 911/Communications in 2003.

*Updated all 911 equipment and added a telecommunicator position.

*Held an annual, workshop-style retreat of the commissioners and the school board.

"The members of the Strategic Planning Committee were complimentary, because we're so close to completing 100 percent of the recommendations," Smith said. "They want the word out on what's been done, so the 300 other people that worked on the plan could know what happened with their work."

One of the recommendations from the committee was to expand the education focus to include all areas of public education.

"They talked about developing guiding principles for education that would go from zero to 99," Smith said. "It would include Mount Olive College, Wayne Community College and Weslyan College. It's not just about public schools, it's about all education."

Smith said that the county needs a long-range plan on how to pay for new schools.

"If the public says that these are the things we want, then it's an easy sell," Smith said. "Wayne County is going to change, whether we like it or not. So, we need to see the best way to deal with it, and people need to have a voice in that process."

The overwhelming consensus of the committee, Smith said, was to complete the land-use plan, which will take at least 18 months.

"And after that, they said they would like to start working on a new strategic plan for the county," Smith said.

Those attending last week's meeting were: Hardy Sullivan, Dr. Sandy McCullen, Andy Evans, Vance Greeson, Kay Albertson, Christine Jones, Glenn Chitty, Curtis Shivar, Bea Lamb, the Rev. Dennis Jacobs, Dorothy Hardy, facilitator Glenn Harbeck, county planning Director Connie Price, Sue Guy, county Emergency Services Director Joe Gurley, Smith, and commissioners J.D. Evans, Andy Anderson, Efton Sager and Jack Best.