Chairman of the Guilford County Board of Commissioners Skip Alston has, for the last several years, emphasized a “One Guilford” theme – which is an attempt to get the county and its cities and towns on the same page, thinking collaboratively and strategically.

 The importance of that theme was never more evident than at the Thursday, March 7 Annual Retreat of the Guilford County commissioners held in the Congdon Yards building in High Point this year.

The commissioners kicked off the 2024 retreat with a round table discussion that included mayors and top staff of the county’s cities and towns.

During the discussion, which lasted about an hour and a half, the commissioners, mayors and other town and city officials discussed ways their local governments are using the millions in the federal American Rescue Plan (ARP) money that the county passed along to the towns and cities.

Alston said during the meeting that the importance of the get together, and of “One Guilford,” is that “Everyone is learning from each other.”

He said in recent years he’d seen a lot of discussion going on in which towns and cities took good ideas from each other.

“Managers ask, ‘How did you do that?’” Alston said. “And they ask, ‘How can we do that in our community?’ It shows that it works.”

He also said that, when it comes to proven best practices working in one town, others can just “cut and paste.”

Alston added that the representatives of the towns and cities should thank their commissioners.

“The commissioners fought for their districts,” the chairman said, adding that everyone got a share of the federal relief money, much of which is going to needed infrastructure projects in small towns.

“We wanted to make sure that everyone got something,” Alston said.

During the discussion, Commissioner Pat Tilman read a message from the Stokesdale mayor, noting before he began, “It’s a town of 7,000 residents I have the pleasure of representing.”

The letter said the ARPA funds had made a big difference, especially when it came to water infrastructure, which included an additional main line.

“A new water 3.1-mile water main increases water capacity to the underserved,” Tillman read.

One goal, he said, is to help get people off of well water.

Tillman later said that logical zoning across the county was important and he said the area’s local governments need to work together on that and guard against the US-421 corridor being taken over by a “Wild West” mentality.  That is, he wants to see housing, retail and businesses go in very strategically.

Tillman did create some controversy when he said that Stokesdale had the best  Christmas parade each year. He got a lot of pushback on that.

Greensboro Mayor Nancy Vaughan asked if the commissioners could help bring down interest rates.

“That’s above our pay grade,” Alston said.