Project Updates: Halfway Point

 

Eau Claire City Hall

It's hard to believe, but we've reached the halfway point of the program, so it's time to provide an update on the interns' projects.   Here's a brief synopsis for each.

     For my first project, I was supposed to update the information on the referral programs in the criminal justice system onto an Excel spreadsheet. The programs consist of the Intoxicated Drivers Intervention Program (IDIP), Community Service, Deferred Prosecution (DAGP), and Diversion. Each of these programs are meant to reduce recidivism and keep low-risk offenders out of jail, further preventing them from intermixing with medium and high-risk offenders. These programs also help out the community, reduce jail overcrowding, and save money- both for the tax payers and the County.

            I was given a summary from 2008 for each program so I used this information and template to update the information for 2012.  In order to get the additional information I needed I had to meet with the coordinator for each program. Each coordinator explained his/her program in greater detail and gave me numerous brochures and data tables. Using all these brochures and tables, I created an updated summary for each program. Most of the information for the programs was the same from 2008 to 2012- goals, incentives, sanction, eligibility, etc. Therefore, other than a slight minor adjustment here and there, the only things I really had to change were the data regarding the number of persons served in 2012 and the cost of the program. Once I compiled all of this information onto the spreadsheet I went back to each coordinator and had them make sure everything was correct and see if there was any additional information they wanted me to add. After all the information was correct, I created an additional summary page comparing the costs of each program; some of the programs require the client to pay for additional services and my supervisor, Tiana, wanted to make sure these additional costs were clearly laid out for the client to prevent any confusion.

            After the spreadsheet was completed, I made a Word document to further summarize the programs because the information on the spreadsheet is a little overwhelming and redundant. For this reason, Tiana wanted to make sure there was another source that made the programs a little easier to understand. Therefore, I chose the most important information for each program and put it on the word document. Because I already had all of the information I needed, creating the Word document didn't take long.   Tiana explained to me that she's been trying to update the information on the programs for the past two years but hasn't had the time due to other priorities. Therefore, it was nice to help her out by getting this project out of her way.   Beginning on Monday, I'm looking forward to transitioning over to City Hall to work on some Fire Division and Parks Division projects two days a week, in addition to continuing at the county the other three days…  Shelby Knapp.

City of Eau Claire City Council & Commission Chair Travel & Travel Policy Project

Writing travel and training policies for city council members and commission, committee, and board chairs has been no easy task. The project is coming to a close, pending a review by the city council president and an official vote from the city council.  In order to provide written guidelines for council members and create policies involving the use of funds allocated specifically for commission chairs to travel, there was a need for concrete policies that would guide council members and commission chairs as they gain skills in governance, present at national and regional conferences, and advocate for their community. The policies I have developed come in part from the framework of the employee travel, training policies and procedures and are modeled from other municipalities travel policies. The policy provides clear definitions of authorization for official city travel, designates sources of funding, and general information regarding reimbursable travel expenses. Upon approval by the city council, the proposed policies will be officially adopted for use by the city of Eau Claire…. Terrence Williams.

I have already finished one project for the Land Conservation Department, which was creating exemptions for localities in Eau Claire County under the Stormwater & Erosion Control Ordinance. These exemptions were needed so that the towns within the cities would be exempt from one or more of the parts of this ordinance if they already had a working system (I discussed this already in one of my journals).

                Ben and I have been working on another project for the Land Conservation Department, which involves a referendum fee in order to replenish one of the LCD’s funds. Initially, we had to come up with an idea about how to create a fee that did not target a single industry. We came up with the idea of making a fee based on the area of impermeable surfaces that a landowner had on his or her property. This fee will be broken up into tiers based on the total surface area of the property. To figure out probable fees for each tier, I have been working on GIS to find the averages for each division of properties (residential, agricultural, and commercial). Based off of these findings, we will determine a monthly fee that each property owner will have to pay. The fee will most likely be in the $.10 to $.50 range per month.

GIS project (maps available upon request):

I began with a map of Eau Claire County, with the red being the property lines. The areas that are more filled in are residential areas, and the more spread out lines are either agricultural or commercial areas.

I then zoomed in on an area of the map. This happens to be a neighborhood in Altoona. The area outlined by the light blue dots is the sample of 92 houses that I used for the case study.

I outlined all impervious surfaces on the properties, and figured the (impervious) surface area for each plot. The average surface area of impermeable surfaces is around 3,800ft.

I did the same for about 25 agricultural plots, and the average surface area came out to be around 35,000ft.

As of now we are still unsure about what to do for the commercial districts in the county. We cannot exclude them from this fee because these areas have such a great amount of impermeable surfaces. If anything they are the main source of the runoff problem and they need to be paying the most. We will be presenting this idea to the LCC on June 24th at their monthly meeting.

                In the county planning department, I have been working on a Non-Metallic Mining Addendum to the Eau Claire County Comprehensive Plan. I have been doing a lot of research on non-metallic mining (which in this case is frac sand mining). I have an outline of what I am going to add to the comprehensive plan; all I have left to do is begin drafting and meet with my supervisor to get the final addendum finished. I should be done with this project by the end of next week… Karen Daniel-Hamberg.

       After a very fast 4 weeks I finally have my project for the Clerk of Courts’ office done. Today I spent the time getting my project looked over and fixing all the errors. Now I can finally say I have a finished product. At the beginning of this assignment I actually had no idea what I was going to be creating, and even though I probably shouldn’t admit this ..I was kind of winging it. On the bright side, “winging it” definitely worked out in my favor. What I have done is created the Advanced OA Certification program, that will add improvements to the current training program. This 10-page mini-manual I have created includes job descriptions, and a break down of the Advanced OA Certification Program that I have created. This program is divided nto three phases that each OA will have to complete in order to become certified in any area of the court.

At first this project was more designed to just improve the transition from level three office associates to level five. The problem was “why create this when it’s only going to be used when an OA5 leaves or a job becomes available”. So moving in a slightly different direction, collaborating with my supervisor we came up with a new idea. Not only should level three office associates be trained but level five office associates should also have that option. This Advanced OA Certification Program serves as a cross training certification manual for OA5s but also a certification guide for OA3s that are transitioning.

It is separated into three phases that should be completed over a three month period. All of the office associates work in different areas of the court such as family, civil, criminal, small claims, and traffic. The difference in each area led me to create a structure that could be used as a base and molded to create a specific training program for each area. I constructed a basic task chart that has to be filled in by the supervisor. This chart keeps track of tasks and amount of errors that will allow supervisor to track progress. By maintaining less than 1% errors OAs will be able to move through the tasks so they’ll eventually become certified.

If there is anything I’ve learned so far over the past three and a half weeks it’s about getting out of my comfort zone and taking chances. I think the biggest risk I took was changing the job requirements without being asked to, which my supervisor actually liked. It’s definitely been great to be in a place where new ideas are wanted and accepted.  So hopefully to add the final touch I can bind it and use some color paper to spice it up a bit. So now I can breath a sigh of relief that I have completed my project…. Brianna Betts.

My supervisor had presented me with 3 different projects before she finally settled on one. Originally I was supposed to do research about a policy on succession planning, but then we learned that I would transfer to the Health department halfway through and decided my project was not doable. Then I was to provide a policy on work evaluation. Last week she decided that I would do my project on working from home because a lot of employees have asked about it. I did research from other organizations and found a lot of information on what is necessary in a policy. After I presented my research she asked me to draft a policy. I finished with the policy and now I am just waiting on her to review the policy. My policy includes: the purpose, the process, requirements, conditions, agreements, eligibility, considerations from staff members and department, and a safety check-list. It is very detailed and I think my supervisor will take a lot from it and will be able to create a great policy out of my draft…. Brittany Williams.

      I have been working a Stormwater Utility Expense proposal to establish a fund for the Land Conservation Division (LCD) at Eau Claire County. This fund will be used to finance local conservation efforts such as lake rehabilitation and financial assistance for farmers and towns.

This Stormwater Utility Expense would be assessed according to the square footage of impervious land surface on each parcel of land. We still have to decide on a specific monthly cost, but as of now, the average cost would be approximately $0.20/month for a household. This fee will be classified into different “tiers” of payment. After a certain square footage of impervious land (1000ft for example), the landowner will pay a higher rate. We are thinking about having approximately three different tiers.

In addition to creating revenue for the Conservation Department, this expense is an initiative to create awareness of damaging environmental practices and to promote conservation techniques. If landowners display a form of conservation effort (via an infiltration system), they are eligible to receive credit for their efforts. Examples of different infiltration systems a citizen may establish include rain barrels, green roofs, and rain gardens.

I have much of the project planned out, however, we are now onto our most tedious and time-consuming task: mapping the parcels of impervious land for the City of Washington. Taking this data from the Washington Case Study, we can extrapolate the data to the County of Eau Claire as a whole. This will give us a rough estimate on the projected cost and revenue for the Stormwater Utility Expense. We also still have to conduct some pre-election interviews that will provide us with a general idea of how the public may receive this proposal.

In the end, we hope that this fee will help the rehabilitation of lakes, ease persistent flooding, reduce amount of pollution from runoff, act as a reserve for farmers and towns, and fund a variety of the LCD activities. Because of these benefits, we hope to receive advocacy help from local conservation groups such as Lake Districts, 1000 Friends, and Trout Unlimited if the proposal makes its way to the ballot.  We will present our proposal on June 24th to the Land Conservation Committee.  Ben Swegarden.

EC County jail