November 2017

A Note From Our Mayors

Author: David Bennett & Lisa Sulka | Photographer: Krisztian Lonyai

A Note from David Bennett
Let’s Plan on It!

This quote is considered a Berra-ism—one of many attributed to the late, great Yogi Berra: “If you don’t know where you are going, you might wind up somewhere else.” How true. So, let’s be thankful for the planning efforts that help us know where we’re going and that are occurring right now. There are projects as forward-thinking as our Visioning Initiative, tactics as short term as weekly staff/management meetings, and methods as reliable as the annual two-day strategic planning workshop. The workshop occurs this month and helps us decide where we’re going in the next 12 or more months.

On November 16 and 17, before Thanksgiving transports us into a world of food, family and festivals, your Town Council and staff will hold their strategic planning workshop at the Omni Hotel on Hilton Head Island. Please consider this your personal invitation to attend! Details of the agenda and workshop hours will soon be finalized and published. As this prose is penned, town staff is working with the Beaufort County Broadcast Channel staff to livestream the work- shop sessions. Our goal is to provide complete and convenient access to everyone who is interested. When we gather to discuss the priorities that will guide the distribution of town re- sources, accessibility is critical to achieve an informed citizenry, which is certainly the hallmark of good government and something for which we can be thankful.

Why do we hold annual strategic planning workshops? From my experience with the past three annual events, our goal in setting aside the time and resources to vet and establish priorities is one of the best ways to provide clarity, identify initial obstacles and challenges, and ultimately produce tangible and quantitative results. Take as examples some of the top priorities from the past three annual sessions: Mitchelville, visioning, sanitary sewer, heirs property matters, stormwater plans, paving of dirt roads, as well as entertainment, arts, cultural & heritage planning. Each of these has gained significant ground (some literally) as a result of identification as a priority, establishing a direction for the community on these matters and allowing the application of resources to achieve the goals set for the priorities.

So, how does the workshop operate? Long before the actual two-day affair, a facilitator, currently Patrick Ibarra of the Mejorando Group in Glendale, Arizona, (gettingbetterallthetime.com) speaks with Council members individually. Based on this, he develops a list of workshop discussion items. Simultaneously, town staff engages in efforts to assist Council in discussing strategic options, obstacles and opportunities, both to address current incomplete priorities and potential new ones.

When the actual workshop takes place, Ibarra delves deeper into the level of commitment and consensus of Councilors on the key matters identified. Staff pro-vides continual input as the discussion unfolds and becomes dynamic. At the end, a list of priorities is established that is then broadly communicated and distributed among the town’s departments, boards, commissions, affiliated organizations and individuals in a manner meant to achieve organizational efficiency and success. In short, the workshop operates well.

These planning efforts play a key role in continuing to protect our life, liberty and pursuit of happiness, for which we are thankful. And in the spirit of Thanksgiving, lets also be grateful that we all wound up in this veritable wonderland we call Hilton Head Island (whether we knew where we were going or not). And let’s finish with another Berra-ism: “You can observe a lot by just watching.” Come, witness how priorities are established and know that your entire Town Council and staff are grateful for every one of you, as we plan for our future together.

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A Note from Lisa Sulka
Youth Community Service Award Program

The youth of our town is a constant focus of mine. So much so, that two years ago, I started the town’s Youth Community Service Award Program. This program provides an avenue for our town’s younger residents to invest their time and talent into our community and for them to be recognized for their community contributions. It is also an added element to those students applying for scholarships, as well as secondary education or going in to the workforce after high school.

This award provides sophomores, juniors and seniors recognition for their volunteerism in the Bluffton community. Those students who have worked to make a difference in our town will be recognized and awarded, by me, at a council meeting at the end of each program.

The requirements are very simple, as the idea is to get students out in the public, giving back to this town.

Volunteer requirements:
• Open to all sophomores, juniors and seniors attending public, private or home school in Bluffton.
• Volunteer hours must be earned between May 1 and April 30 of each calendar year.
• Volunteer hours must be served with a nonprofit organization providing services of benefit to the Bluffton community.

Eligibility requirements:
• Silver Award: 50 hours of volunteer service
• Gold Award: 51-99 hours of volunteer service
• Mayor’s Exceptional Service Award: 100 or more hours of volunteer service

All volunteer hours must be signed off by the organizational representative and by the student. There is a Volunteer Hours Tracking Form and is the only form that will be accepted for recording hours. Forms must be submitted to the mayor’s office no later than April 30 to Kimberly Chapman at kchapman@townofbluffton.com. Students who earn an award will be recognized at an awards ceremony at Town Hall.

We have a Facebook page for all participants. You can “like” the page labeled “Mayor’s Bluffton Youth Community Service Award Program” and post any community service pictures you have.
Please pass this along to any student in a Bluffton school who is a sophomore, junior or senior, and don’t hesitate to contact us for more information.

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