Strategic plan helps

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 18, 2001

map out future of Pike Co.



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Staff Writers

Pike County has lofty plans and goals for the future, and with the completion of the strategic plan, which was initiated nine months ago, town, city and county government officials now have a map to get them there.

For the first time, committee members involved with the strategic plan reviewed the draft of Vision 2001. Created by the Pike County Chamber of Commerce, in cooperation with Horseshoe H Consulting, the vision for Pike County is to "be a safe, economically sound and diverse, environmentally responsible, family oriented, and attractive rural community with a common interest in educational, recreational and cultural opportunities and historical preservation, where meaningful life-long experiences are provided for all segments of the population."

Marsha Gaylard, president of the Pike County Chamber of Commerce, said she was pleased with the input from the community and the issues that were brought forward from the focus groups during the shaping of the strategic plan.

"We have a lot of good things in Pike County," she said. "Through the planning stages we identified strengths and weaknesses in Pike County and now we will work diligently to build on the strengths and correct the weaknesses."

The document, which is about a half-inch thick, identifies strengths, weaknesses, short-term and long-term goals in infrastructure, economic development support and quality of life.

John Schmidt, past chairman of the Chamber of Commerce board, said the meeting held Tuesday morning was "to bring closure" to the process of creating the strategic plan.

Now, the implementation, he said, is in the hands of town, city and county government.

"The document can serve as an economic tool for the entire county," Schmidt said of the plan.

Don Hines of Horseshoe H Consulting said close to 300 man hours have gone into creating the plan that is meant to serve as a guidebook for Pike County’s future.

"We tried to identify items that we felt were the most do-able and put those items on the goals list," Gaylard said. "Sometimes there is just not money available for a lot of what we want. We did not take those items off the list. We are going to work toward those items and try to accomplish all of our goals."

As far as infrastructure is concerned, the top priorities were: Improving 41 bridges to support school bus and emergency traffic, having the Pike County Water Authority develop a systematic plan to upgrade existing supply lines for fire protection, for the Pike County Commission to adopt effective subdivision regulations to reduce health hazards from household waste treatment systems, enforcing litter laws and prosecute violators, maintaining and upgrading South Alabama Electric Cooperative’s distribution system and undertaking an educational program to inform citizens of electronic access capabilities.

Key goals for economic development were: Encouraging school systems and senior citizen programs to teach principles of financial management, pursuing and supporting efforts for regional economic development, supporting an educational environment of challenging academic standards, Increasing levels of cooperation between employers and educational systems to increase the number of available and qualified workers, forming a permanent countywide senior citizen advisory council and have seminars on developing agricultural and rural enterprises.

Quality of life included everything from crime to recreation. Top priorities under that category were: Diversity training for law enforcement officers to include Spanish communication skills, having an inventory all walking trails and existing recreational facilities, establishing a permanent cultural/historical advisory council and review activities each year, encouraging and assisting volunteer fire departments in developing emergency medical and basic life support systems, encouraging construction of additional medical office space to attract providers, creating a comprehensive emergency response plan, sewer service to areas for the development of additional housing lots in Troy and encouraging county residents to enforce the one can per household rule in rural areas.

Supporting documentation to the plan included threats and opportunities to be faced in the future.

Gaylard said she appreciated everyone who took part in the focus groups and helped work on the strategic plan.

"We want to particularly thank everyone in Pike County who was a part of the process," she said. "We are very pleased with the input from the community. A lot of issues that were brought up during the focus group meetings are already being addressed.

"We still welcome input from anyone in the community who wants to be a part of the on-going process. A lot of good things are coming out of this."

Editor’s Note: When the strategic plan is finalized, The Messenger will address the different aspects of the plan and the effect it will have on Pike County’s future in an in-depth series.