The Guilford County Board of Commissioners is planning a two-day trip to a local country club – but the commissioners aren’t going there to hit the links and eat pheasant under glass and steak tartare. 

The board is meeting at the club for its annual retreat, where the nine commissioners, along with top county staff, will delve into great detail on important issues facing the county.

The retreat will be held on Thursday, March 4 and Friday, March 5 at Forest Oaks Country Club at 4600 Forest Oaks Dr.  The board has a tremendous number of issues to deliberate on this year.  The county is currently building a new animal shelter and new behavioral health center and is planning the construction of a new headquarters for the Guilford County Sheriff’s Department – and that’s just three of the front-burner items the board has on its plate.

The 2021 meeting will have a much different focus this year than last year.  When the board held its annual retreat a year ago at Bur-Mil Park, the coronavirus pandemic was just getting underway, and no one imagined that, a year later, businesses and schools would be closed and everyone would be required to wear a mask to go into a store.

Last year, the entire two days were largely focused on the usual county business.  This year, however, COVID-19 and the financial fallout from it will be front and center. 

Other differences in 2021 are that the county has a new manager – former Guilford County Budget Director Mike Halford – as well as, for the first time since 2012, a Democratic-majority board and Democratic chairman.

The board will be missing at least one commissioner at this year’s retreat.  Commissioner Justin Conrad, at the Board of Commissioner’s Thursday, Feb. 18 meeting, informed the eight others that he would not be attending the retreat because of a trip with his wife for their wedding anniversary.  At the meeting, some other commissioners joked that Conrad had made the right decision – otherwise, one commissioner said, it might be his last wedding anniversary.