Most of the interns are now quite settled in their respective positions. Because we are all working in different departments, we are seeing far less of each other than we originally did at the start of the program. However, yesterday we were all able to get together at an Eau Claire City Council Meeting.
The heads of all the Eau Claire City Departments were present to discuss their positions in the Eau Claire system. The City Manager as well as administrators from Finance, Police, and Human Resources all gave a great introduction into how their specific position fits into the structure as a whole. We learned a great deal about the workings of a Council-Manager form of government that Eau Claire uses.
Following the meeting at City Hall, we hopped aboard a brand new, eco-friendly city bus for a tour of Eau Claire. On our tour, department heads of Transit, Public Works, Parks and Recreation, Planning and Zoning, Fire, Library, and Health Services pointed out and described different aspects of Eau Claire and how they relate to their department at the City of Eau Claire. We also made a couple of very interesting stops at the Water and Wastewater Treatment Plants along the way. The tour was a great way to connect the City’s real-life projects and events to the theoretical ones we have been discussing in our departments and in class. It was really a great learning experience!
On Friday May 24, the interns attended the city and county manager association regional meeting in Mennomonie, Wisconsin. While there interns had the opportunity to listen in on local government administrators discussing issues pertaining to state budget concerns, healthcare reform, and legislative issues affecting local governments.
The discussion regarding state issues and how they affect local governments illustrates how state mandates and regulation have impacted local government functions pertaining to low risk investment functions for local governments that would now allow local governments to invest in more risky investments. However, these new state laws and others are not in line with professional local government practices and municipality standards.
This meeting provided an excellent opportunity for interns to be a part of a discussion that allows managers from different municipalities to see how they handle problems within their communities. The interchange of knowledge on how to handle issues that affect municipalities is typical and managers take shared wisdom and apply it within their own communities.
Contributed by Terrence Williams (Florida State U, '13)
The Interns have settled in a bit now, and have scattered around the two buildings we occupy. They are getting toknow their supervisors and the tasks assigned to them. The stuff you read below represents what we in higher education call service learning at its best!
I am working with Human Resources for the Eau Claire County Government. So far it has been a great experience! I have had the opportunity to sit in on meetings involving the Affordable Care Act. The main topics have been about how to deal with people who work part time or at 30 hours because when you reach 30 hours a week you qualify for the health insurance. There have been talks about cutting some jobs to 29 hours a week while other jobs become full time. I have also been able to use creativity with creating flyers for the Eau Claire County picnic and creating job announcements. So far, So good!
For the Eau Claire county government I'm working with the Clerk of Courts. Currently I'm shadowing the office assistants (OA's) who work in all of the courts (traffic, family, small claims, etc). My goal is to gather enough information to help improve OA training. By making suggestions to help improve OA training, I'm hoping to help OA 3s gain adequate knowledge to become OA 5s (those who are clerks in the courtroom).
Working with the county of Eau Claire has been great thus far! My supervisor, Tiana Glenna, has been very patient with me and has welcomed me to the Criminal Justice Collaborating Council (CJCC) with open arms. It's exciting to be working with a department that is relatively new and I can't wait to better understand the criminal justice system and work with Tiana.
At Eau Claire City Hall I work in the city manager's office. There my job consists of drafting city council member and commission chair travel and training polices as well as creating a curriculum for a citizen's academy for the City of Eau Claire.
Our first week was a great introduction to Eau Claire. County Administrator Tom McCarty gave a great tour and has been a very good host. It was great to get to know the city I've lived in for years even better. Within the first week I've already learned so much more about the city's history and the workings of the Eau Claire governmental system. It was particularly interesting getting in touch with Eau Claire County's Amish population during a public forum. I hope there are more interesting events like this to come!
So far working in the Land Conservation division of the county has been interesting. We started off the week by attending a meeting with over 100 Amish people, and then we went and explored the county and saw many of the frac sand mines. Today I began my first project of inventorying high sediment contribution areas in specific watersheds throughout the county. I read a lot about soil erosion in Eau Claire, it was neat.
· Worked with Cassandra on putting in utility bills in the system.
· Looked over 2013 Budget
· Met with Becky about TIF files
· City Council Meeting with Dale
Yesterday, we drove 650 miles without incident, moved into our digs (Chancellors Hall for the profs and Katherine Thomas Hall at UWEC for the students) and got supplies for our rooms.Today, we received a whirlwind introduction to the city and county of Eau Claire WI, Tomorrow, the work begins. Students have good project assignments and seem nervous but confident. I know they will make us proud…
I am amazed at how well we are treated here. The county and city employees turn out in force to welcome us, and to patiently explain the structure of local government in Wisconsin…. even though they must be very busy with their work.