The Guilford County Board of Commissioners, led by current Chairman Skip Alston, is doing something highly unusual this year – the board is holding its annual strategic planning retreat in a place where the board has held it before. 

Usually, the Board of Commissioners holds the retreat somewhere to highlight that place – like a new meeting venue, new community college building, or at a restaurant, country club or hotel that’s become a central hub in a Guilford County community.

Two years ago, the board held the retreat at the county’s Bur-Mil clubhouse at Bur-Mil Park at 5834 Bur-Mil Club Road in Greensboro to highlight renovations that had taken place at the clubhouse and on the grounds there.  However, this year the board is taking the nearly unprecedented step of holding the retreat back at Bur-Mill.

The annual retreat, usually two days of meetings, is used by the board to make major strategic plans and to dive in great detail into things like what capital needs the county will have over the next five years and how the next fiscal budget numbers are looking.

This year, the retreat will be on Thursday, March 17 and Friday, March 18.  On both days, the meetings will start at about 8:30 a.m.

County officials are still working on the retreat agenda.

This week, Alston explained why he wanted to hold the retreat at Bur-Mil again rather than at a fancier, more high-profile place.

“I wanted to stay home,” he said of the no-frills county facility. “You can think better in your own home. I didn’t want a lot of glamour and fanfare. This will be a bare-bones retreat. We just wanted a time to think about only what is needed for our citizens for the coming year – not a place to impress ourselves. We don’t want to be concentrating on our surroundings, only on our citizens.”

Some places in the past have offered impressive meal catering for the county commissioners, presenters and staff.  Years ago, the board held its retreat at High Point University and county officials still rave about the excellent cuisine and red-carpet treatment they got there. 

Alston said High Point University was one very nice venue and was another place that was considered this year.

“Believe me, we had some nice places that we were considering,” the chairman said, adding that this is a year to stay highly focused on the work at hand rather than the surroundings.

About 15 years ago, the Board of Commissioners even held the retreat in another county – at a fancy venue in Chapel Hill.  The board held the meeting even though a massive snowstorm was on the way and, amazingly, they didn’t finish until the storm was beginning.  County staff and others who tried to beat the storm home still recall harrowing tales of the journey back in a blinding snow storm that put many lives in peril.