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By Mark Wineka
Salisbury Post
Could it be 23 years they’ve been doing this?
Salisbury City Council will have its 23rd Annual Future Directions and Goal-Setting Conference ó call it a retreat ó this Thursday and Friday in Salisbury.
Both days will include luncheons with guest speakers.
Jeff Michael, executive director of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte’s Urban Land Institute, will speak at Thursday’s luncheon at City Hall.
Michael will speak on the Charlotte Regional Indicators Project, which was completed in 2007.
Chapel Hill Mayor Kevin Foy, incoming chairman of the N.C. Metropolitan Coalition, will speak at Friday’s City Hall luncheon on the coalition’s work. The coalition is a group of mayors who work together on state and national issues affecting the state’s larger cities.
City staff has titled this year’s retreat “Rediscovering Our Story, Acquiring Wisdom for the Future.”
Catawba College Professor Gary Freeze will kick things off Thursday morning by offering a glimpse into the city’s history. Freeze will look at social, political and demographic movements and review government policies, programs and trends which have affected the economy.
Warren Miller will serve as the retreat facilitator, and he will close Thursday morning with a session called “Historic Impact on the Future.” Miller is founder and president of Fountainworks, which works with government and non-profit groups to acquire public opinion, collect market research and develop organizational strategies.
Thursday afternoon sessions will include a “Smart Community” discussion based on a book by the same name and authored by Suzanne Morse.
Other sessions will include updates on the Downtown Salisbury Master Plan, better housing and commercial maintenance, the Cemetery Division’s strategic planning and diversity recruitment and retention.
Friday morning’s session will include an update on customer service training from members of the Salisbury-Rowan Utilities staff. They will be accompanied by consultant Tom Westall, managing director of Lead for Life, and Interim Human Resources Director Joe Eagle.
Another consultant, Mary Berryman Agard, will follow with a preliminary findings report on the Cultural Action Plan.
The morning session concludes with a “Fiber to the Home” presentation led by Councilmen William “Pete” Kennedy and Mark Lewis. They will be assisted by Management Services Director John Sofley, Technology Services Director Mike Crowell and consultants from Davenport & Company and Uptown Services.
After Friday’s lunch, Sofley and Budget and Performance Manager Teresa Harris will give a budget economics session before council members spend the rest of the retreat reviewing and setting goals.
Council also will develop a “one-year tactical plan.”
Contact Mark Wineka at 704-797-4263 or mwineka@salisburypost.com.

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