Oconee County department heads, at the invitation of Board of Commissioners Chair John Daniell, met for two days last week at Stone Mountain in what Daniell said was an effort at “team building.”
In the first day of the session on Thursday, former County Administrative Officer Alan Theriault led the group through a discussion about the budget process, communications, morale “or any other item important to the group,” Daniell said. Neither he nor current Administrative Officer Jeff Benko attended that session.
Friday’s session included a brief discussion involving Daniell and Benko of each department. “The goal was to allow brain storming on the director’s ideas for implementation and see where joint efforts may benefit,” Daniell said.
Including Benko, Daniell and Theriault, a total of 20 people attended the two day program, and County Attorney Daniell Haygood participated in the session on Friday.
Final figures for the cost of the retreat, including travel and hotel expenses, won’t be complete until Friday, Daniell said. The cost has been budgeted at just under $600 per employee and will come from each department's travel budget for the current year, he said. That brings the rough cost to about $12,000.
The state open meetings law does not extend to staff meetings, though Daniell did make passing reference to the planned retreat at the work session the Board of Commissioners held at the Community Center in Veterans Park on Wednesday.
The retreat was held inside Stone Mountain Park at the Evergreen Conference Center.
Daniell said he chose to go out of the county for the retreat because “I believe it is more effective for team building and getting prepared for an aggressive agenda.”
The retreat was two full days with two nights stay at the conference center hotel.
Spouses were invited to attend the Friday evening meal, Daniell said, but not all were able to join the group.
No Other Commissioners Present
Daniell said that none of the other four members of the Board of Commissioners attended the retreat.
According to a sheet Daniell provided me, the group discussed a list of goals, including a county-wide electronic filing system, open book management, performance indicators for all departments, a new county seal, a facility plan, and broadband service in the county.
The list also included Rails to Trails.
“I believe the time was beneficial to all the participants and allowed for much needed team building,” Daniell said.
Note: I misinterpreted how the budget for the retreat was calculated and have updated the article to reflect a correction from Daniell. I apologize for the error.
I like that Rails to Trails was there also.
Rails to Trails are a big economic engine, exactly the type of project the Oconee County Planning Dept. should be going after, instead of approving two unneeded fast food joints across from the primary & elementary school entrances that the Planning Commission voted against 9-1, and County Sheriff Scott Berry come out against.
Athens & Oglethorpe Counties all in on the Firefly Trail, http://www.fireflytrail.com/, which is expected to be a big economic stimulus; bike trails stimulate revenue:
If we're falling behind Oglethorpe County, that's a problem.
What benefits do trails provide?
Trails are safe places for exercise and active transportation, so they help people of all ages combat cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity and other effects of inactive lifestyles. By separating bike/ped traffic from roadways, trails can improve safety.
*Trails bring foot and bicycle traffic, which is good for business, and long trails often attract significant tourism.
Trails can be resources for historic preservation and education, as well as corridors for nature. Trails tend to reduce crime in the areas they serve and increase nearby property values. Most importantly, trails make communities more attractive places to live and work, which helps recruit and retain investment in new businesses, industries and residents.
The City of Maxeys in Oglethorpe County has been selected to receive a $100,000 grant from the Georgia Department of Natural Resources to build a segment of the Firefly Trail in Maxeys, which will become part of the planned 39-mile long Firefly Trail from Athens to Union Point.
In announcing the award, state Rep. Trey Rhodes of Greensboro said, “This is great news for the citizens of Clarke, Greene and Oglethorpe counties. With this funding, we are one step closer to providing a quality trail experience for our communities. Thank you to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources for investing in this important initiative to promote economic development in our area and to enrich the lives of our citizens.”
In Union Point, trail users will find an historic downtown business district, museum, theater (currently undergoing renovation) and convenience stores for supplies. Nearby, mountain bikers will enjoy more than 26 miles of privately developed mountain bike trails at Hart Farms-Corry House Trails. With plenty of parking and easy access to I-20, Union Point will be a great starting and ending point for adventurers from Atlanta, Augusta, Macon, Milledgeville and points beyond. With enthusiastic support from the downtown development authority and city leaders, the city is actively working to make the trail a reality.
Totally AGREE on all points!!!!
BTW, a rails-to-trails from Watkinsville (starting Hiway 15 at the Xcrossing ) to Athens through the Whitehall Forest and down along S. Milledge would such a major boon to little W'ville business, e.g. restaurants, bars, shops, and would be all good for our community. Can you image being able to ride your bicycles safely back & forth, maybe stopping at the BOT GARDEN along the way for a nice break.
Oh my goodness!
Jamie Boswell ought to spearhead the thing, donate some seed money, we'd call it the Boswell Trail. His name would go down for all times as major contributor to the good of Oconee Cty, Athens, our health and prosperity.
Several years ago while on the Recreation Advisory Board I chaired a sub committee to try and get the Rails to Trails program started in Oconee Co. Russ Page and I met with Michael ----? who was the head of the program in Athens several times to co-ordinate the programs. However there was little interest from the powers that be in Oconee at that time to go forward with the plan. Maybe some of the reason was economic but the main reason was the Rail Road had NO INTEREST AT ALL in even talking about letting the right of away be utilized.
I thought then and still do think it is a great idea.
Good luck to whomever has the will to try again. When dealing with the RR it is a massive red tape nightmare finding which RR it is and then even harder finding who is the correct contact person.
I think it was probably well worth the cost. John is setting a new tone as Chairman and to interact with department heads during a retreat will help build a team mentality. Keep up the positive changes John!
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