Wednesday, February 15, 2017

January Book Drive

Starting in January 2017, Iowa County Employees have decided to pursue community project every other month as a way of showing how committed they are toward helping Iowa County prosper.

In January, Iowa County Employees donated boxes of books that are being combined and distributed toward Iowa County Library's.

                                                   Iowa County Health Director, Sue Matye and Employee
                                                   Relations Director, Allison Lietzinger pose for a picture
                                                   with the donated books.
The County Employees have already started planning for March's fundraiser and plan to announce their project at the County Board Meeting on February 21st. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

2017 County Legislative Pursuits

Iowa County is always striving to provide a better quality of life for our residents.  As these efforts come together, there are challenges that must be overcome or addressed.  Sometimes the challenges are not in control of the County Board of Supervisors and we need help from our Representatives and Senators in Madison.  Here are a few items that Iowa County is asking our state for help with:

[Portions have been taken from Wisconsin Counties Association, CAP TEAM Literature]

Child Welfare Services.  State statutes require all Counties, except Milwaukee, to provide child welfare services and employ personnel who devote all or part of their time to child welfare services.  This includes initial assessment of reports received, investigations, the provision of services to children and families, as well as the removal of children from their homes to ensure their safety.
    • Across the nation, additions to heroin, opiates, and methamphetamines is increasing and as a result, so is the need for child welfare services.  Service needs have increased, but funding has not.  The number of children welfare referrals in Wisconsin has increased by 36.8 % from 2001 to 2015. 
    • Drug use and addition cost society in many ways.  Iowa County wants to be sure we have the funding to help cover the costs of child welfare services.  

County Land Conservation Cost-Sharing.  Since 1997, Wisconsin has made preserving topsoil, protecting our vital agricultural economy, and keeping lakes and rivers healthy a priority that they funded by offering cost-sharing grants to Counties.  These cost sharing grants have been used to cover the staffing of County Land Conservation Offices.  This funding has been in jeopardy several times, and has never been sufficient to meet the benchmarks required by state statute. 
    • Supporting the viability of the County Land Conservation department cost-sharing grant program becomes more important each year.  The employees of this department are uniquely qualified to provide technical assistance to design and implement conservation practices for our County landowners.  This high level of technical assistance is not something any other public sector provider offers.
    • Employees of Land Conservation provide educational and technical assistance to help farmers meet state agricultural performance standards and county livestock licensing requirements.  They help farmers secure permits for manure storage and other activities AND in the process ensure compliance with standards that protect drinking water.
Modernizing 911 Services.  Since 2009, emergency 911 services have been evolving.  Wisconsin's system has not been keeping up with the rest of the country.  Unfortunately the costs of implementing the Next Generation 911 service and the lack of a statewide network has slowed/prevented the implementation.   By 2020, our existing 911 system hardware and software will be obsolete or cost prohibitive to maintain.
    • Because of the high costs to upgrade now, Iowa County is unable to afford to upgrade without state assistance.  The state is in the best position to implement the new Next Generation system statewide by funding and implementing a state hosted ESInet that would allow Dispatch and Law Enforcement to access the latest technologies with the most cost efficiencies - all by volume purchasing.
    • Moving forward to the Next Generation will allow means of communication beyond phone calls; mainly the use of text and video.  This helps those with hearing and/or speech impediments and allows dispatch to forward communications directly to first responders in emergency situations. 

If you happen to have a chance to speak to your state representatives, please consider mentioning the efforts noted above as changes that Wisconsin needs to pursue.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Sitting is the New Smoking...

Several of society's leading experts are now encouraging standing desks in the workplace. Recently Iowa County has begun opening that option up to our staff as a means of making them more comfortable at work. 

Employees who are concerned about their wellness or who have a hard time sitting for hours are trying out the standing desk option.  Employees who have had past knee, back, or foot pains may find that the movement encouraged by standing is helpful as opposed to sitting for long periods of time.

The standing desks purchased by Iowa County have the flexibility to adjust so that an employee may sit or stand at their option.  The additional movement this encourages leads to additional employee comfort and a better working environment.  Our goal is to provide a workplace that is safe, reduces workplace injuries, and helps employees be productive.

If you have a chance, stop by the Iowa County Courthouse and ask an employee who is using a standing desk how they like it.  I'll bet they immediately smile and begin talking about how it has made their work environment better.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Holiday Project

Each year, Iowa County facilitates and organizes the "Holiday Project" in an effort to ensure that those in need are assisted during this festive time of year.  The County supports the Holiday Project by accepting donations and coordinating community groups that provide presents, meals, and other services.

This coordinated effort developed a few years ago when several groups got together and decided that the many organizations in Iowa County were all serving similar people.  Coordinating community efforts has let to a more efficient provision of services, reduced overlap, and greater confidence that those in need were getting the proper assistance.

The Holiday Project is managed out of the Iowa County Social Services Department.  If you or an organization you belong to wants to help with the Holiday Project, please contact Tom Slaney

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Broadband Forward! Certification

On November 29th, 2016, Iowa County received their Broadband Forward Certification from the Wisconsin State Public Service Commission.  Iowa County is the first County in Wisconsin to be certified. 

About six months ago, the Iowa County Board had a strategic planning session where they tried to organize and set goals for the future.  During this meeting, they considered many services and quality of life improvements.  They considered the condition of public infrastructure, our County jail and Bloomfield Nursing home projects, economic development, tax base growth, and a many other topics; but everything kept coming back to our resident’s ability to find high speed internet at an affordable price and how we use that to build a new economy.

Many of our residents enjoy the scenic beauty of Iowa County, but one of their biggest complaints is the ability to access high speed internet service.  At this strategic planning meeting, the Iowa County Board decided that High speed internet was a priority and that we were going to do something to improve our County’s Broadband capacity.

  1. The County Board adopted the Public Service Commission’s model ordinance to jump start our broadband expansion by eliminating obstacles and ensuring a streamlined process for approving local broadband investment.
  2. They directed County IT personnel and the County Administrator to start exploring public-private partnerships that would expand broadband services in Iowa County.
  3. The County Board also recently approved a budget that includes a matching grant to provide up to $50,000 to help expansion efforts in 2017.   The funds will match dollars awarded from the Rural Broadband Expansion Program and private Investment dollars.
I am proud to be a part of Iowa County and am pleased that the Iowa County Board has taken the right steps to move our County... "Broadband Forward!".