The Barry County Board of Commissioners Tuesday approved a new process to encourage citizens to serve on various county boards and committees.
A three-person committee of commissioners would interview all applicants three times a year in an informal setting, explain what boards do, help find the right fit for the person, answer questions and generally put applicants at ease.
The candidate they thought was right for a board would be moved forward to the full board for a normal interview. The applications of the ones who were not forwarded would be held for consideration of future openings as they occurred (see related story for details). More advertising and a Facebook page are included in the plan.
In public comment time at the end of the meeting, four citizens gave the commissioners their opinions.
Cathy Gramze said she recently went through the former interview process and finds Geiger’s process much friendlier, but it doesn’t go far enough.
“People don’t read the Banner; people don’t read the Reminder. In fact, a great number of people don’t get the Reminder because of delivery issues. People read Facebook.
“They don’t listen to the radio, they don’t get local news on TV, they go to Facebook. The county needs a dedicated Facebook page." On Facebook, they could get information immediately to thousands, she said.
“Ben is on the right track, but I think he needs to go even a little bit further if he wants to engage with the people under the age of 40 in Barry County. She later asmended that to 60.
“Yeah. Newspapers and radio are not advertising revenue sources anymore like they used to be or we wouldn’t have so many huge newspapers going under. We’re lucky we still have the Reminder.”
Sharon Zebowski said the new process was a step in the right direction…” I hope there are several steps to follow. Don’t stop there, keep going.”
When she’s asked people to consider serving on county boards, she said the response is: “Why on God’s green earth should I want to waste my time on a board where nobody knows what they are supposed to do, and if they should do something, the commissioners will put a stop to it.
“You show no respect and often are flat out insulting, and if I tell them I‘m on a board they laugh and think I’m crazier than a loon. Until you take a good hard look at the purpose of the board, what you want the boards to accomplish, how they help you govern and you show them the respect they deserve, you are still going to have problems getting people to serve, she said.
“People want to know what is expected of them, how they are helping, that they are appreciated and treated with respect. There are many other places to serve-you are competing with all of them.”
Barry County Sheriff Dar Leaf: “The idea of getting more people to serve; I’d like to see when you look up on the Barry County website, to see ‘What does a drain commissioner do?’ Click on it and it will tell you what the drain commissioner does...just stuff like that…What is this board ? What do they do? What is their function?
“They should be able to read up on or even see a little video of what they do…the reality is you have to start reaching out to the younger group, the younger generation. You guys are no different; we’re having a hard time recruiting for full time employment for law enforcement and corrections.
Ben Eastman agreed with Commissioner Vivian Conner who objected to a three commissioner panel interviewing applicants and deciding whether to forward them to the board of commissioners for a formal interview. “As far as selection, I don’t think you should have a subcommittee selecting these people and choosing who moves on and who doesn’t… I would like to see these decisions made in a public forum.
“I don’t think anyone is going to admit in this public forum that they have a personal agenda in that process, but I think the opportunity is there for that.”