As Lewis County looks to implement its five-year strategic plan — and allocate funds expected to roll in from the federal government’s most recent COVID-19 package — county commissioners are looking to write a vision and mission statement to guide future projects and policies.
“If we’re going to get where we want to be in 20 years, that has to be clearly laid out,” said Commissioner Sean Swope, who brought the idea up on Monday. “That has to be clearly defined, because if we don’t do that, we’re just kind of spinning our wheels.”
As an example, Swope pointed to Hampton County, South Carolina. The small county — with a population about a quarter of Lewis County — describes itself as “one of the most progressive, small counties in the state,” and has a vision statement to preserve a “vibrant economy,” “rural quality of life” and “sense of community pride.”
Commissioner Lindsey Pollock said she agreed with the prospect of crafting a vision and mission statement, saying she was “disappointed” that Swope appeared to have made up his mind on how to spend portions of American Rescue Plan funds from the federal government, despite no major guiding principles outlined by the county. A vision or mission statement, the commissioners said, may help outline common goals to guide decision-making.
Pollock also brought up critiques she voiced on the campaign trail last year: that Lewis County’s five-year strategic plan doesn’t look far enough into the future. A 20-year plan would be more appropriate, she said.
The county’s existing five-year strategic plan — crafted last year with public input — doesn’t specifically outline a vision statement, although it lists the county’s “primary directive” as follows:
“Build upon our location, resiliency, and strong sense of community to offer future generations the opportunity to build a life for themselves in this beautiful environment that we are fortunate to call home.”
That primary directive is further fleshed out in the strategic plan, which discusses the county’s “passion for elevating and sustaining quality of life,” and its position between Portland and Seattle that enables “the best of both city and rural life.”
The county is still working on creating a sort of “scorecard” for the public to keep track of the county’s progress in implementing its plan, which spans topics such as housing, public health and economic development.
County commissioners will likely discuss and develop a vision or mission statement in future meetings, as Pollock suggested scheduling at least once-monthly meetings to work on it.
Commissioner Gary Stamper, however, cautioned that the county shouldn’t spend too much time on developing the statements.
“I’ve got many things to do, we’ve got many committees … but on the other hand, too, our staff, they’re very busy too and there’s only so many hours in the day,” he said. “If we’re going to do this, I think it’s got to — timewise — it’s got to be as efficient as possible.”