NCACCCommissioners Pat Sykes, Randy Thompson, Marty Cooke and I attended the N.C. Association of County Commissioners’ annual conference in Winston-Salem this weekend.

During the conference I attended educational seminars and workshops on a number of topics, including: Managing Conflict Constructively (certainly an issue that raises its head in government at all levels); County Authority for Public Schools (Kara Millonzi did a great job attempting to explain an issue that is as clear as mud), Statutorily Speaking; The NC Public School Partnership (this provided an informative look at the history of school funding in our state and its implications on county government); and, Data-Informed Decision-Making.

The seminars listed above were educational, and I learned something in each of them. With that said, the most valuable component of any such conference is often the opportunity for impromptu conversations with commissioners who have faced many of the same challenges we face.

For example, on Thursday morning I made my way to the hotel restaurant for breakfast. Upon entering the dining room, I spotted a familiar face from another county that I had seen at past NCACC events. While I couldn’t initially remember the gentleman’s name, I nonetheless joined him at his table. Within two minutes we were discussing fire protection issues, which are referenced later in this newsletter. His county has experienced rapid growth similar to our own, and has therefore experienced similar growing pains. I plan to stay in touch with him and pick his brain on this topic.

In this age of technology, I still agree with the Chinese proverb that says “A single conversation across the table with a wise man is worth a month’s study of books.”

Other NCACC Conference Notes:

  • Pender County Commissioner George Brown was elected to the NCACC Board of Directors as the District 4 Director. District 4 covers Brunswick, Pender, Columbus and New Hanover Counties.
  • Kevin Austin of Yadkin County was elected NCACC 2nd Vice President. Larry Phillips of Surry County is 1st VP, Brenda Howerton of Durham County is President-Elect, and Fred McClure of Davidson County is the new President. Glen Webb of Pitt County is Past President.