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Commissioners reflect on county’s 2020 initiatives 

Re-elected county commissioners took their oath and reflected on Forsyth County government’s accomplishments for this year during an meeting held on Dec. 7.

Commissioners Dave Plyler, Gloria Whisenhunt  and Richard Linville were sworn-in by Superior Court Judge Eric Morgan and District Court Judge Victoria Roemer. During the meeting, Plyler was re-elected by his fellow commissioners as chair and Don Martin was re-elected as vice chair.

Plyler gave a year-end review looking at what the county has done in 2020, including its response to COVID-19.

“I don’t think there’s anyone in this room, or this county, or in this state, in the nation or in the world that hasn’t been affected by the virus,” said Plyler.

The county’s Public Health Department has been fighting the virus directly with testing, contact tracing, and educating the public and businesses regarding the importance of masking, social distancing and handwashing. The county’s Social Services Department has been responding to the economic toll of the pandemic by facilitating benefits for those in need. Plyler praised the work of employees in both these departments, as well as Deputy County Manager and Health and Human Services Director Shontell Robinson, who oversees them.

Plyler also praised General Services, overseen by Deputy County Manager Damon Sanders-Pratt,  for quickly installing barriers, social distancing markings and sanitation stations at county facilities to protect the public and county employees from COVID-19.

Though COVID-19 dominated the headlines of 2020, the county continued its regular work to improve the lives of its citizens in many ways. The quarter-cent sales tax was ratified by voters and now funds local supplements for teachers in the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County School District.

Significant work has been done on  economic development around Smith Reynolds Airport, with an aerotropolis study on how the airport can spur growth, the potential sale of county-owned property at 4897 Lansing Drive for a Garner Foods consolidated distribution headquarters, and a study on unmanned aircraft, which is a growing field in aviation.

The county is also working to improve behavioral health services, and has begun the disengagement process from Cardinal Innovations Healthcare. This will allow the county to find a more effective  LME/MCO to provide behavioral health, substance abuse, and intellectual/developmental delay services.

The county continues to battle the opioid epidemic with Emergency Medical Services’ Community Paramedics and by supporting harm reduction efforts. The county has given support to addiction recovery programs ARCA, in its efforts to relocate, and TROSA, in opening a location in Winston-Salem.

Work also continued on transitioning the Safe on Seven Domestic Violence Center to the nationally recognized Family Justice Center model, which will be a one-stop location to serve those impacted by different types of interpersonal violence with services and support provided by many partner agencies.
And land is approved for purchase and the planning process began for a new park at Belews Lake.

Other commissioners also gave their year-end remarks, thanking the residents for their support and county staff for their hard work.