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Funding approved for computer update in Clerk of Court office

By Jonathan Pleasant
Although there were more than enough commissioners present to constitute a quorum, several members were absent at this month’s Board of County Commissioners meeting. With the recent passing of his wife, the board’s first action was to express their condolences to the family of Commissioner Bill Adams. Also absent was Commissioner Dean Stout, whom County Mayor Larry Potter confirmed had been in the hospital. While Potter went on to say that Stout expected to be out soon, the Commission did honor Stout’s request to fill a vacated position on the county beer board.
The biggest item of the evening was the approval of this month’s purchasing recommendations, which included bids for an updated computer system to be installed in the Circuit Court Clerk’s Office. With no significant upgrades since the original system was put into place nearly 15 years ago, Circuit Court Clerk Carolyn Wilson Hawkins and Deputy Melissa Holloway have worked to make the switch to Local Government Corporation, the company that currently handles many of the county’s other departments, as well as the state court’s themselves.
With the office’s current company changing ownership, Hawkins saw this as a prime opportunity to make the changes in an effort to save money in the long run and provide additional services that are currently unavailable, including the ability to pay fines electronically. With a full integration of the old system’s files, the office will now also be able to create an accurate number for delinquent fines and send information directly to a collection agency without having to make a hard copy. In fact, the new system will be able to eliminate much of the costs of copying and mailing required information to the state as well, increasing the efficiency of the office overall.
With the total cost of the upgrade coming in at just over $50,000, the item was first presented to the budget committee where it met full approval and then sent on to the purchasing committee to be bid out. Only two companies were able to meet the requirements for the office, and of those two only Local Government Corporation responded. A portion of the cost will come from within the Court Clerk’s own budget with the remainder being split over a two year period.
The board of commissioners also considered a request from Safety Director, Karen Manuel, to approve this year’s update of the county Occupational Safety and Health Program Plan. Changed to comply with several recent state requirements, the plan covers all of the county’s 133 employees and their health and safety on the job. While all of the members of the board were given copies of the update, only commissioner Huey Long had any questions about the document, questioning some of the disciplinary procedures for employees who willfully or repeatedly violate the plan’s health and safety standards. With the range of penalties beginning at oral reprimand and going all the way up to termination of employment, County Attorney Bill Cockett informed Long that this was a standard scale used in many similar documents, and while there was no specific list of actions and consequences, the punishment would generally fit the severity of the violation. With Long’s questions answered and no further concerns, the board voted unanimously to approve the updated document.
For the rest of the story, pick up a copy of this week's Tomahawk.