Wright County Board ready to embrace social media networking

by John Holler

There are certain things that have never been associated with the Wright County Board of Commissioners. Among those would be the discussions trending on Twitter that include  #WrightCountyBoard. At a time when technology is advancing rapidly and communication is changing, especially with younger county residents, the county’s system of operating has become a bit antiquated.

That might change soon. One of the first things the new county board, especially Commissioner Mark Daleiden, wanted when the changing of the guard came at the county board with infusion of four tech-savvy commissioners was to take the county out of the 1990s and into the 2010s.

As part of the county board’s Aug. 20 agenda, the commissioners referred discussion concerning significant advancements to the presentation of county board meetings and how the county conducts its business to the technology committee’s Sept. 11 meeting. Topics to be discussed at that meeting include web streaming of county board meetings, digitizing the packet of board information to the county website, the conversion of committee minutes and documents to a digital format and a redesign of the county’s website.

“It an exciting time,” Information Technology Director Bill Swing said. “The vision of the new county board is to support transparency in county government. The goal is to make the county’s website much more interactive and make it much easier for those looking for services to find them on the website instead of having to come to the courthouse or wait in line.”

Wright County developed its initial website in the mid 1990s. It was a very static website that basically gave information about the county and little more. In 2006, the county undertook a web redesign that made the county’s website more interactive, but much of the information that was created was still difficult for residents to utilize. The new changes will alter that dramatically.

“When the website was updated seven years ago, the were significant changes made, but you still had to hunt to find what you were looking for and most of the services were provided in PDF formats,” Swing said. “The website isn’t ADA compliant, doesn’t take into account social media and isn’t mobile device accessible. Given how quickly the delivery of communication has changed, as a society we’re going much more paperless. The new design will be much more interactive and information will be digitized to make it easier for someone searching the site to get the information they seek.”

Swing expects to come before the county board following the Sept. 11 technology committee meeting to see how the county proceeds with its technological upgrades. The changes will be noticeable and pronounced and, while there isn’t a hard timeline yet on when the changes will be completed, they are coming soon.

“We still have a long way to go, but we’re taking a significant step,” Swing said. “The former county board didn’t have as much of an interest in doing major redesigns to the county’s website, but the new board recognizes that this is the wave of the future and that business is going to be done electronically more and more in the future. We have a lot of work to do, but the changes are going to be exciting and will streamline the process of being interactive with the public.”

In other items on the Aug. 20 agenda, the board:

ANNOUNCED that the 2013 county plat book is ready for sale. The last county plat book was completed in 2007. Copies are $30 and are available at the surveyor’s office in the Public Works Building. For an additional $5, the plat books can be mailed out. County Surveyor Steve Jobe said the biggest difference in the new plat books is that alongside the land descriptions that are typically in plat books there will be aerial photos of the areas in question.

REFERRED to the building committee discussion of converting the old sheriff’s administration area into a lunchroom in the county courthouse and move the existing file systems that are in that area out to the Law Enforcement Center.

APPROVED a temporary slope easement to Rockford Township for a road paving project on 30th Street S.E. near Crawford Lake. The township is paving the road and is seeking the opportunity to slope the ditch area, install culverts and provide mailbox support installation.

AUTHORIZED board attendance at the annual Minnesota Counties Intergovernmental Trust’s Regional Risk Management Workshop Thursday, Sept. 26, in St. Cloud.

AUTHORIZED Commissioners Pat Sawatzke and Charlie Borrell to attend an Aug. 23 meeting in Hutchinson to discuss transit issues in the Central Minnesota corridor.

Contact John Holler at [email protected]