There are big things on the horizon for Lewis County.

Lewis County Manager Erik Martin is teaming up with a Strategic Planning Advisory Committee, also known as SPAC, and Tanner Consulting International to draw up the plan, based in large part on community engagement. 

As a member of the planning committee, Joe Clark detailed the idea behind the Vision 2025 project by explaining: “It’s important to understand that we’re just trying to get out front five years with this plan. We felt that as a committee, anything beyond that got a little more crystal-ballish.” 

Inspired by the slogan “Lewis County Listens,” the architects of the strategic plan, according to Clark, will reach out to an assortment of groups — from high school students to local seniors — to elicit feedback on where they want to see the county improve. In addition, they will encourage participants to convey their thoughts on housing affordability, transportation, utilities, economic development and other issues through 16-question online surveys. 

Starting January 7, 2020, respondents will be asked to fill out narrative fields to rather than be presented with point-and-click options. 

“We want people to take their time and give us their thoughts about what they see are the real priorities for the next five years. It’s our intent that this survey will be up until March 30 and that we would hope to get somewhere in the neighborhood of 2,000 to 3,000 respondents, so that we could have some statistical reliability in the information we collect,” said Clark. 

On that note, he credited Martin and his staff with adopting a new approach in compiling data by “frontloading the community component” in drafting a roadmap on how to best use public funds. 

Promotional efforts about Vision 2025 will be seen and heard on radio, newspapers, digital media and on buses. 

The objective won’t be to solely “get responses,” Andrea Culletto said, but to “get people excited” about the process. 

“Not everybody when you stop them in the middle of the street knows how to answer: ‘How do you feel about the county’s work?’ They maybe have to think about what the county does again. So, we’re really going to tailor our efforts to increase enthusiasm, increase buy-in and engagement and then using those responses that will be so helpful in forming this plan moving forward.”  

The upcoming strategic plan, as previously noted by Martin, will include a yet-to-be-determined set of goals, along with corresponding objectives, strategies, timelines and estimated costs pertaining to each of these same goals. 

The previous strategic plan for 2012 through 2015 contained 10 general goals that ranged from developing and implementing a Lewis County Government Emergency Plan to creating a Youth Traffic Court. 

Attendees at the latest installment of the Lewis County commission’s  Mayors’ Meeting were apprised of the Strategic Planning Advisory Committee’s upcoming survey dialogue sessions with several community organizations over the next three months, including Lewis County Young Professionals, Twin Cities Rotary, Winlock Senior Center and Providence Centralia Hospital, among others.