A - Town General

Posted on: June 30, 2017

Manager's Message of the Week (6/30)

Town of Colchester Employees Summit

A couple of weeks ago the Colchester Town Offices were closed to business on a Friday so that our employees could attend an organizational summit that also included the leadership of our Town boards and commissions and some community stakeholders. Closing the office allowed the majority of staff to attend, although some essential services personnel had to cover shifts and their schedules did not permit their attendance.

OK, But Why A Summit?

Many of us think of Colchester as an idyllic place to live and raise our kids—and in many ways it is—but the sad fact is we just don’t live in “Mayberry” any longer. Consider these statistics from the Colchester Police Department:

  • There were 10 drug overdoses in Colchester in 2013; in 2016 there were 27
  • There were 12 mental health related calls in 2003; in 2016 there were almost 200
  • Over the last 4 years, Colchester Rescue’s use of Narcan (a drug for the treatment of heroin overdose) increased from 5 doses to more than 15 doses
  • Suicide attempts have doubled since 2003; more than 40 incidents in 2016
  • 40-50% of our police force (and Town staff) will retire by 2025  

Over the past twenty years, the Town has developed an ambitious vision for the future of our community with many plans and long-term goals. We have accomplished a lot, but there is much more to be done. The summit included an exploration of how staff, board members, and the community might better work together to sustain and realize our vision, even though we face the usual municipal realities of resource and budget constraints. The summit was dedicated to the contemplation of the future of Colchester, with a focus on four interconnected areas, or themes:

  • Recruiting the next generation of our workforce
  • Ensuring continued community safety
  • Encouraging economic development and community engagement
  • Revitalizing the Malletts Bay area to create a “recreation destination” and center for the community

With these goals in mind, we brainstormed new ideas, participated in team-building exercises, reflected on our achievements, the strengths of our employees, and explored new ways to leverage those strengths to accomplish Town goals.

We ended the day with our annual employee recognition and celebrated the 30 year work anniversaries of Mike Moffatt, Finance Officer; Karen Richard, Town Clerk; Sgt. Jim Roy of the Police Department; and Scott Smith, Department of Public Works Highway Division. The Town is very fortunate to have such experienced and dedicated employees.

The summit was reported by all to be a resounding success: we learned from each other’s perspectives; engaged with each other outside the “silos” of our departments; found new ways to collaborate; and witnessed some new leaders take the initiative in our various discussions. From my observations, and those of the board members in attendance, the day spent away from the office strengthened employee morale and was a sound investment for the future of our community.

For more about the Town Manager’s Office visit http://colchestervt.gov/manager or call (802) 264-5509.

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