2017 has begun with snowstorms resulting in more snowfall than our area has seen in many years. While this precipitation will perhaps be more appreciated at harvest time, it has kept our county roads and facilities departments and traffic safety personnel busy ensuring the safety of our citizens, visitors and employees. While 2016 was less eventful weatherwise, there was indeed a significant amount of activity in Franklin County government.
The Superior Court Clerk’s office continues to improve its case filing processes, utilizing the statewide case management system known as “Odyssey,” and is working with other county clerks prior to and during their respective “go live” dates to demonstrate Odyssey’s functionality and efficiency. The Superior Court Clerk’s office also completed the move of the Legal Financial Office in 2016 from the third floor to the second floor of the Public Safety Building to provide better service to the public. As a passport agent for the United States Department of State, the Clerk’s office processed more than 2,600 passport applications in 2016, an increase of more than 800 passport applications processed in 2015.
In November, county planning and building departments relocated from the courthouse to 502 Boeing St. near the airport. This relocation was designed to allow easier access for citizens seeking building permits and inspections or plan reviews, and more efficient coordination with the public works department. At the end of 2016, long-time Planning Director Jerrod MacPherson and Deputy Planning Director Greg Wendt both left Franklin County for professional opportunities with neighboring Benton County. The county is currently recruiting for their replacement.
In January 2016, Franklin County created its own independent Office of Public Defense, which historically had operated under a joint office with Benton County. Long-time local and highly respected attorney Larry Ziegler was contracted to set up and manage Franklin County’s Office of Public Defense, to provide legal representation to indigent defense clients.
Franklin County is continuing the implementation of new financial software, which is streamlining accounting processes. While this project has taken several years and has incurred significant challenges, it is a necessary step in bringing county financial management into the modern era and allowing us to better serve the public. The county went live with accounts payable and human resources/payroll modules in 2016 and anticipates adding procurement, budgeting and other modules in 2017.
The TRAC Facility continues to be an important part of economic development in Franklin County, attracting local and out of town visitors. TRAC creates millions of dollars in economic impact to our community and improves our quality of life. As Franklin County continues to grow, TRAC is being selected more often as the venue for a larger variety of trade show and entertainment functions. Strategic planning for how TRAC will best serve our community going forward is underway. We are replacing the flooring in the expo hall and the temporary overlay floor in the arena to provide better, safer and more functional floor coverings.
Sheriff Jim Raymond continues to improve law enforcement and corrections center operations. Much effort has been focused on improving policies and practices in the Correctional Center to meet the requirements of a legal settlement surrounding conditions and procedures in the jail facility. In 2017, there will be continuing effort to improve physical conditions in the jail, which will add to the safety of our staff and inmates and provide essential changes necessary to meet the county’s legal and risk management requirements.
Brad Peck, Rick Miller and I continue to serve the county through our appointments to nearly 20 boards and committees each, including county, bi-county, state and federal appointments. The attendance at these meetings, together with the research, correspondence and interaction that is required of the appointments, keeps the commissioners aware of programs, grants, progress, legislation and opportunities for our residents.
We look forward to the challenges and rewards 2017 has in store and are proud to be an integral part of Franklin County and of service to our community.