They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but you can teach a Board of Commissioners chairman who’s seemingly been on the board forever a new trick or two.

And not only did Chairman of the Guilford County Board of Commissioners Skip Alston learn the new trick – he loved performing it so much that county residents can expect to see a lot more of it in the future.

In this case, the secret weapon, the trick, if you will, was a tool many politicians love – a teleprompter.

That device, of course, displays the text of the speech on a screen that lets the speaker give his or her remarks without constantly looking down at note cards or sheets of paper – as Alston has done his whole life when making speeches.

The first time in his life he ever used a teleprompter was on Wednesday, Sept. 20, when he gave the much-hyped 2023 “State of the County” address, which apparently will be an annual event now – and you can bet future versions will use the teleprompter as well.

The night after the speech that was seen by a large audience in the Commissioners Meeting Room as well as on the internet and on local cable, an effusive Alston remarked about his newfound love for the device. He made the remarks during a Thursday, Sept. 21 Board of Commissioners meeting.

Alston said that, at first, he had trepidation about using a teleprompter and he wanted to give the speech the same way he had given speeches his whole life.

“We went back and forth on this teleprompter thing,” Alston said at the September 21 commissioners meeting. “I had never used a teleprompter before.  And, they said, ‘Well, Skip, just try it. Try it for us.’”

It didn’t take long for the formerly set-in-his-ways chairman to be won over by the newfangled machine (that was actually invented 73 years ago).

“I realized, for the first time I don’t have to look up and look down,” and obviously elated Alston said. “We tried it and it worked – because of them.”

He said he and other county officials felt the speech went very, very well.

“It was a team effort and I just really appreciate it,” Alston said.