During its March 11 meeting, the Idyllwild Fire Commission discussed the prospects of conducting a strategic planning exercise in the future.

Several commissioners, Fire Chief Patrick Reitz, his assistant Sherry Edwards and Ruth Wick, head of Volunteer Company 621, attended a 5-day strategic planning class the previous week.

Commissioner Rhonda Andrewson thought the class was phenomenal and urged Commission President Jerry Buchanan, who also attended, to appoint a strategic planning committee by the April or May meetings. He also indicated that the process would yield benefits for the District.

“I’d like us to begin to move ahead,” he agreed. “The first step is planning the plan with the Chief or a committee.”

This action will be discussed further at the April meeting, but Commissioners Nancy Layton, who was the third attendee at the class, and Andrewson indicated they would volunteer to lead the effort. However, it may be several months before it actually begins.

Before the Fire Department initiates the planning effort, Chief Reitz said he hoped to bring the instructor to Idyllwild for the benefit of other Hill agencies and nonprofit organizations. He thought late summer or fall was a likely time to begin the exercise.

“Before we jump into a District strategic plan, I’d like to see training for additional folks in this organization and others,” he recommended to the Commission. “I’d love to have the Finance Committee volunteers bring him here sooner rather than later and make him available to other agencies on the Hill.”

In addition, Reitz encouraged the Commission to find a community member, outside of the Department, who could lead the planning process. “I think this would add validity. They would look at it from a different angle than one of us would,” he said. “And we might be perceived as steering the process as opposed to facilitating process.

“We could start a strategic planning process as soon as we get done with training,” Reitz affirmed. “I’m thinking August or September.”

In other action, the Board amended its public complaint process to emphasize that “At no time is a Board member to become involved in the investigation or further gathering information about the complaint, especially if it involves personnel.” And the Commission completed its self-evaluation.

Layton, who is also the Treasurer, announced that the District had about $355,000 in bank accounts. This amount includes the $218,000 from the sale of the cell tower lease.

Chief Reitz had no further comment on the personnel investigation, although he hoped to have a draft of the report this week.