Chairman of the Guilford County Board of Commissioners Skip Alston said this week that the county commissioners’ annual retreat will be about “following through” on current board plans – like school funding and construction projects now in the works – as well as about seeing that fiscal year 2022-2033 moves the county forward in new ways.

Each year, the commissioners get together for two full days of intense focus on county issues and this year they will do so at Bur-Mil Park Clubhouse on Thursday, March 17 and Friday, March 18.

“A lot of the retreat will be about following through on what we said we would do last year,” Alston said.

The county has completed a number of major goals recently – such as opening a new mental health center, animal shelter and Emergency Services maintenance facility – but the county commissioners still have a lot of huge irons in the fire.

Those include building a new Sheriff’s Department headquarters and getting a large sum of money into the hands of Guilford County Schools either by a coming $1.7 billion bond referendum or by other means if voters don’t approve that referendum.

“Number one is school funding,” Alston said of the things on the top of the commissioners’ minds right now.

He said another current major priority that will be discussed at the retreat is a plan to improve internet and broadband access in Guilford County.  He added that the plan was already in motion.

Alston said another important topic that will be discussed is infant mortality.  The numbers in Guilford County are way too high – and one particularly troubling aspect that county health officials have talked about a great deal this year is the huge disparity in infant deaths for minorities.

According to Alston, another issue that will be addressed at the retreat is an ongoing county study of MWBE and disparity issues. When it comes to awarding county contracts and using women- and minority-owned vendors, the county has had low numbers for years.

One interesting thing – and perhaps a really good sign that the threat is finally receding – is that Alston mentioned many items before he got around to the following.

“And there is COVID,” he said. “There is still more work to be done and we need to explore how to get back to normal.”