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Commissioners hold retreat

Decatur County Commissioners held their first planning retreat in recent memory on Tuesday, discussing their vision for county government in the future.

The retreat was held all day Tuesday at the lodge of the Climax Gun Club, near Climax, which is co-owned by Commissioner Butch Mosely and Sheriff Wiley Griffin.

Facilitators from the Southwest Georgia Regional Commission led the six commissioners and County Administrator Tom Patton through a discussion of a variety of topics, from more abstract goal-setting to the formation of plans for future work in areas such as solid waste and economic development.

Dan Bollinger, executive director of the regional commission, helped commissioners brainstorm about a vision statement, motto and mission statement, all of which he said would help focus their leadership toward specific goals.

“A vision statement is what you want to see, a mission statement puts you on track for where you want to go,” Bollinger explained.

While they didn’t set any permanent wording, commissioners talked about what they enjoy about Decatur County and how they would like to see it transform within the next 20 years. Some themes included the area’s abundant outdoor recreational opportunities and the presence of two U.S. highways and a major railway line.

Commissioners such as businessman Gary Phillips talked about the closeness of Bainbridge to the large cities of Dothan, Ala., and Tallahassee, Fla., which provide Decatur County with both cultural benefits—something for citizens to do—and economic selling points—such as their available workforce.

Commissioners also discussed more practical topics at the retreat, such as continuing to strive for orderly, effective meetings, implementing formal training programs for county employees and communicating with the public.

Board of Commissioners Chairman Earl Perry said he was satisfied with the format of a retreat—the Bainbridge City Council has been holding its own two-day retreat annually for several years.

“It gives us some things we can build toward in the coming years,” Perry said. “Meetings like this help us concentrate better and allow us to tie up lots of loose ends.”

Patton said he too believed the retreat was useful to commissioners.

“It gets us together, out of the office setting where we can get distracted, to discuss a number of issues and see if we can come up with some possible solutions,” Patton said.