Session called ‘a defining moment’

Published 12:00 am Sunday, August 11, 2002

Suffolk City Council members say last week’s retreat – the first one ever led by an outside facilitator – was productive and successful.

The retreat, which started Thursday night and ended after a 10-hour session on Friday at the Tides Inn, was designed to strengthen council as a team.

Lyle Sumek, a Florida-based facilitator specializing in work with local governments, led the workshops.

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&uot;I think it went great,&uot; said Vice Mayor Leroy Bennett. &uot;There was a lot good team-building and everybody participated. It started us off on a good working relationship.&uot;

That teamwork is important to being an effective council, said Mayor E. Dana Dickens III. He said Sumek’s help made it easier for the council to bond and focus on setting goals.

Also, increased participation made it different from past retreats, said council member Linda T. Johnson.

&uot;The past four retreats have always been structured,&uot; she said. &uot;This time, we got down with pen and paper and put ourselves into it.

&uot;That’s important. We are a new council … with two brand new members and they have to bring their ideas in…. You can’t bind a new council with an old council’s priorities.&uot;

Sumek will be paid $1,400 for a 10-hour day. After that, he bills at $175 an hour.

City Manager Myles E. Standish, who described the retreat as a &uot;defining moment&uot; for council, said he expects Sumek will also join council for its fall retreat, where it will refine goals set last week.

On Friday, neither Sumek nor Standish could give an estimated cost on Friday.

Assistant City Manager Cindy Rohlf refused to estimate costs of food and rooms. She expects to receive a final bill from the resort next week.

Last week, several City Council members indicated they would be paying for the own accommodations – a room at $229.

The city footed the entire bill in order to receive the corporate/group discount, Rohlf said.

She will send notice to anyone who wants to repay the city, she said.