01/16/13 — Commissioners to gather Thursday for retreat

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Commissioners to gather Thursday for retreat

By Steve Herring
Published in News on January 16, 2013 1:46 PM

Wayne County commissioners do not appear concerned that they do not have an agenda for what is expected for Thursday's day-long planning retreat.

The retreat, which is open to the public, will get under way at 8:30 a.m. at the Goldsboro County Club. It is expected to last until about 4 p.m.

Commissioner John Bell agreed that it is unusual to go into a retreat without an agenda.

However, Bell said that County Manager Lee Smith had said commissioners, "were going to play it by ear and talk about anything they want to talk about when we got there."

"Lee brought it up at the (board) meeting to get-together and talk about different things without a specific agenda," he said. "He asked board members what they wanted to talk about. I don't think anybody gave him anything."

Bell said he had not given Smith any suggestions and didn't know if any other commissioners had.

At the board's Dec. 18 session, Smith told commissioners that retired Cooperative Extension Agent Wanda Sykes would serve as facilitator.

"I would kind of like to know how you would like to conduct the day," Smith said at the meeting. "This facilitator is very good about team building. Also, prioritization, discussing with you as board members your thoughts on where you see yourselves going as a board working together."

Smith said the retreat would be more like a work session, but with a facilitator, and that commissioners could look at mission statements, values and goals.

He also suggested that the board hold follow-up retreats.

Smith said there would not be "a real agenda," but rather discussion. He did ask commissioners for any ideas that they might have.

Chairman Steve Keen, who could not be reached by phone, did reply to an email saying he had been attending meetings out of town all day.

"This coming Thursday, our hope is that the facilitator will draw from each commissioner ideas, goals, and vision we can incorporate in planning for the future of Wayne County," Keen said in his email. "That is her job and I pray she does it well.

"As you know in these uncertain times, the Wayne County Commission has immediately come out of the gate focused on jobs, economic growth, the 2013-14 budget, a capital improvement plan on all county facilities, the payroll system, funding capital expenditures for education, the lack of sales tax receipts, unnecessary spending, state mandates, federal cutbacks, community health care, future purposed legislative bills and improved services for local post-war veterans."

Commissioner Wayne Aycock, who took office in December, said he couldn't really comment since it was his first board retreat.

"So I don't really know what the procedure is to be honest," Aycock said. "I just know that we are having a retreat Thursday, but really, until I can get my feet wet a little more, I really can't comment on it."

Commissioner Joe Daughtery, who also was sworn in last month, said he was not concerned about not having an agenda.

"I do not have an agenda yet. I am just told that we are having a retreat. I am hoping that we are going to have some open discussions. But I don't know what the agenda is, or who is going to be on it, or anything about it.

"I was thinking it would be kind of a planning session for the coming year, but that is just my assumption."

Commissioners Bill Pate and Ray Mayo could not be reached for comment.