The Guilford County commissioners have had a hard time finding a good place to hold their annual retreat this year but they’ve finally landed on one: the new NOAH’S Event Venue in High Point at 4130 Mendenhall Oaks Parkway.
The agenda for the Monday, Feb. 25 and Tuesday, Feb. 26 retreat is also taking shape and, given the list of items so far, the board is set to have one of the most action packed retreats of this century.
Chairman of the Board of Commissioners Alan Branson said that, in addition to other matters, the board is going to discuss the fate and funding options for a new animal shelter, a new Emergency Services vehicle maintenance center, a new administrative office for the Sheriff’s Department and a coming $20-million mental health facility.
The board will also discuss several high profile items including a controversial proposed Cure Violence program and potential changes to the county’s policy on contracting with minority- and women-owned businesses.
The Board of Commissioners has invited the Guilford County Board of Education and other school officials to pay a visit due to the large number of pressing school system issues now under discussion. The county plans on funding up to $10 million in school security needs in the near future and the two boards also have a great deal to discuss in light of a recent joint study that found the school system has $1.5 billion in capital needs. That’s billion with a “b.”
“There are a lot of hot topics,” Branson said of the retreat.
He pointed out that the board canceled its second regular February meeting and therefore much of that business will be on the retreat agenda as well.
According to Branson, one area of focus will be finding ways to draw new business to Guilford County and the commissioners will hear from economic development officials and County Manager Marty Lawing on ways the county can better meet the criteria that site selection consultants want to check off when they help a business choose a place to start or expand.
Branson said this is a very tough year for the county because there are a lot of major projects on the table and some of the revenue expected in the current fiscal year isn’t materializing.
Branson and county staff had a heck of a time finding a venue this year. The search has been going on for about two months. There were some places the county wanted but that were booked up and others that were rejected for various reasons.
Branson said that there was a hope that the county would hold the 2019 retreat at the new Center for Advanced Manufacturing at Guilford Technical Community College (GTCC) but he said the space there is cavernous and sound doesn’t carry well. He also said that, if it’s cold during the retreat, the commissioners might freeze in the middle of that giant open space.
Last year, the retreat was held at the renovated Morehead Foundry in downtown Greensboro. While the space is nice, there was an echo and other sound issues that made it so that the commissioners and staff couldn’t hear each other well. The press was put way off to the side and by the time the sound reached them the commissioners’ voices sounded a great deal like the voices of the parents in Charlie Brown cartoons.
NOAH’S Event Venue is said to be free of those problems. The space is designed for corporate meetings as well as for a “special occasion, wedding ceremony, wedding reception, or quinceanera.”
When Guilford County Clerk to the Board Robin Keller was asked if there would be anyone getting married at the county’s retreat this year she said that was “highly unlikely.”