By Steve Sharp: firstname.lastname@example.org
JEFFERSON — Jefferson County officials mixed business with pleasure Tuesday evening during their regular county board of supervisors meeting for March.
Following a brief, good-natured, Dean Martin-style roast of retiring Clerk Barb Frank — complete with cake — the board tackled its business objectives for the evening, one of which included taking a significant step toward making the internet accessible for more people in the county.
Supervisors decided to create a broadband working group to review appropriate projects and consider funding options to expand broadband infrastructure here.
In December of 2018, the county board approved an ordinance related to broadband internet that is expected to open doors to rural residents to internet service enjoyed by persons living in the county’s urban areas, or near the corridors of Interstate 94 and state Highway 26.
According to the ordinance approved unanimously by supervisors Dec. 12, 2018, Jefferson County is now a Broadband Forward! Community.
“Enacting the Broadband Forward! Community Model Ordinance and obtaining (related) certification ensures the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin and the people of the state of Wisconsin that Jefferson County has streamlined its administrative procedures by appointing a single point of contact for all matters relating to a broadband network project, established a timely approval process, charges only reasonable fees for reviewing applications and issuing permits, imposes only reasonable conditions for issuing a permit and does not discriminate between telecommunications providers,” the ordinance read.
Formed as a result of board action Tuesday, the broadband working group will dissolve at the end of the 2018-20 county board term. As appointed by county board Chairman Jim Schroeder, the panel currently consists of Jefferson County board supervisors Jeff Johns, Dick Jones, Russ Kutz, Jim Mode and Amy Rinard.
After her “roast” and proclamation as read by Schroeder and County Administrator Ben Wehmeier, Frank gave her final annual report to the board. She called Jefferson County “ ... a wonderful place to work” and said, “I could not think of a nicer place to be.”
Frank’s report was more of a summary of her career as county clerk than annual report of her department’s activities. She said she worked 61 elections, and endured several recalls and recounts. She remembered the old days of paper ballots, punch cards and now scanning equipment.
Frank was upbeat while speaking about the way elections are now conducted in Jefferson County. She said all towns, villages and cities are working in tandem at election time with the county after much organizing and preparation.
“We have a very good voting system,” she said.
Frank looked back on the three administrators she has worked under, going back first to Willard Hausen, then Gary Petre, and said she very much has enjoyed her time with Wehmeier as her colleague and county administrator.
“It has been a great pleasure to serve here and thanks for being a great county board,” Frank said.
Much of Frank’s family, including young grandchildren, attended the meeting to see her “ride off into the sunset,” as one supervisor put it.
Among other items on the agenda that were approved were a bid to construct a post frame storage building at the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office training facility in Lake Mills and an opportunity for supervisors to accept bids to replace two boilers at the human services workforce development building.
In addition to hearing the annual report from Frank, supervisors heard annual reports from Register of Deeds Staci Hoffman and Treasurer John Jensen.
Like Frank, Jensen said the county has many good employees working in its government.
“They are trustworthy and they get along well with the public, and we are very lucky to have these good and dedicated employees,” he said.
Other resolutions approved Tuesday night included one that authorizes contingency fund transfers to offset fiscal year 2018 departmental deficits and another authorizing Jefferson County Human Services to join the National Collaborative for Infants and Toddlers and the National Association of Counties.
A resolution presented by Augie Tietz of the parks committee was approved and allows application for Outdoor Recreational/Development Aids Grant to fund the snowmobile trail maintenance program.