Jessica Cejnar Andrews / Tuesday, Feb. 27 @ 3:34 p.m. / Local Government

Del Norte Deploys Survey Ahead Of Strategic Plan Workshop

Courtesy of Del Norte County

Del Norters are asked to fill out a questionnaire ahead of a public workshop focusing on the county’s strategic plan.

The questionnaire gauges residents’ opinion on the county’s strengths, weaknesses and potential threats. The workshop is scheduled for 10 a.m. Thursday in the Flynn Center. According to Assistant County Administrative Officer Randy Hooper, the workshop is part of a kick-off week as Del Norte develops its strategic plan.

The county’s consultant, Don Ashton, project manager for Municipal Resource Group, was scheduled to meet one on one with county supervisors Tuesday afternoon. On Wednesday, he will meet with department leadership and on Thursday, Ashton will help facilitate the public workshop, Hooper told supervisors.

“The public will have an opportunity to weigh in on the direction the plan is going to be going and from there we have a schedule developed hopefully leading to the adoption of the plan before the budget’s adopted in April,” Hooper said Tuesday. “The hope would be to go ahead and through March do a lot of this legwork and getting into April presenting a couple different versions in draft form and hopefully in final form for the Board to adopt concurrently with the development budget.”

Municipal Resource Group, or MRG, is an Elk Grove-based firm that works on organizational concerns as well as human resources for clients in the public and private sector. Ashton said he came to MRG after working for seven years as the administrator for El Dorado County.

Ashton was also the El Dorado County Director of Health and Human Services for three years and the chief fiscal office for the El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office.

Del Norte County had found MRG after sending out a request for proposals to about nine different firms, according to Hooper.

This comes after the Board of Supervisors on Dec. 29 decided to use a third-party facilitator to help Del Norte County create its own strategic plan rather than doing it completely in-house and farming the entire project out to a consultant.

Del Norte County administration also signed a services contract with ClearGov, vendor of the software program ClearPlans for Civic.

“I think I talked [about] how Nevada County was doing really good work in this space in December, and they actually use kind of a ClearPlans approach, which is really outward facing, it isn’t something that is done in silos and never discussed publicly or the employees or any other stakeholders,” he said. “We’re really excited to use ClearPlans as our solution.”

According to Hooper’s staff report, incorporating the ClearPlans software will prevent the strategic plan from ending up on a shelf with little or no follow-up.

“The Board made clear, while giving direction, that the desire was for any plan to be a living document with regular process being reported and made publicly available,” Hooper said in his staff report.

Before executing the contract with ClearGov, county administration, IT staff and Board Chairman Dean Wilson participated in presentations of how the software would work.

Wilson, who is seeking re-election as representative of Del Norte County District 5, said the county is developing this plan at a time when many of its long-time department heads are looking toward retirement.

In December, Wilson said creating such a plan has been a priority of his since he ran for the county supervisor seat in 2022. On Tuesday, he said he’d like to see a strategic planning process conducted every year.

“The amount of damage that can be done by turning over a department to someone who does not have the knowledge or experience or understanding of what it takes to run these types of organizations can be disastrous. We have seen that first hand,” he said. “It’s congruent upon our Board and our community to come together to pool our resources and determine where the county is going to be in five, 10, 20 and 30 years.”

Norma Williams, president of the Del Norte Employees Association, said as someone who’s worked in a county program focusing on children and youth with special healthcare needs for 28 years, she’s one of those employees with decades of knowledge “you don’t want to lose.”

Williams said she hoped Del Norte County would focus on moving forward into the future rather than looking backwards or standing still. She also urged supervisors to keep county employees in mind when implementing a strategic plan.

“Whatever you decide is going to impact us,” she said.

The survey itself wasn’t without its critics. Robert Derego, owner of Sticky Grove, the only cannabis dispensary in the county’s jurisdiction, asked who wrote the survey “because it seems loaded.” Derego was especially concerned about the question “What is the State of California doing that threatens the county?”

“California’s just a state, you shouldn’t plan a future out of weird fears,” he said.


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