From Thursday, August 12 to Saturday, August 14, the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners held its 114th Annual Conference – this year in New Hanover County.

A large contingent from Guilford County made its way down to the sunny part of the state that’s home to the USS North Carolina.

The last year and a half has been very unusual for county governments and tough on county leaders due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, Chairman of the Guilford County Board of Commissioners Skip Alston, who attended the convention in Wilmington, said there was actually not a giant focus on COVID-19 at the three-day event. 

Other members from Guilford County who attended the conference were Commissioners Kay Cashion, Carly Cooke, Carlvena Foster and James Upchurch.

Questions around diversity, equity and fairness are hot topics in local government right now and those issues were addressed at the convention.

Alston said the seminars were very beneficial and he added that there was an emphasis on better government through enhancing communication between citizens and elected leaders. One class he said he found very helpful was called “’Real Colors’ Fundamentals: Understanding Yourself and Others.”  

Here are some other topics addressed at the convention:

  • Reasons for Fiscal Distress, and Strategies and Mechanisms for Relief
  • Takeaways from New Hanover County’s COVID-19 Experience
  • The Dump That’s Not a Dump: A Riding Tour of New Hanover County’s Unique Landfill
  • Employee Benefit Solutions: Cashback and Pet Insurance
  • Promoting Equity and Engagement in Government with Qualtrics (an online survey tool)

There were also networking events (read: parties) as well as a “Wilmington Water Tours Sunset Cruise aboard The Wilmington catamaran” and a “Horse-drawn carriage tour of historic Wilmington.”

There was, of course, also discussion of the pandemic and presentations on best practice strategies to respond to it.

In one of the lighter moments, Skip Alston participated in a game of “County Feud,” based on the long-running TV game show Family Feud.  Alston, seen above in a picture taken by Commissioner Cooke, was on the losing team.  Alston was asked to name one of the state’s top four crops, however, tobacco was taken and the chairman could not come up with one of the other three.