The last two weeks have been a little chaotic in that things got pretty slow and then kicked into overdrive. Here’s a little of what I’ve been working on:
Budgeting and Finance
Specific projects that I have been working on include –developing collateral and a communication plan for a transition to biweekly pay from monthly pay, spending some quality time with an Ibico binding machine to assemble hardcopy budget books, and reviewing purchasing card logs to ensure that 1) People turned in their logs 2) the numbers add up and 3) the appropriate documents (bank statements, receipts, etc.) are attached to the log.
I also sat in with the Finance Director, Amy Wehrenberg, on a meeting last Tuesday with a local bank. This is something that happens every year or so where the banks in the area schedule a “check-in” to pitch their services and try to get the county as a client. This meeting was really helpful in terms of understanding the tools and services banks offer to local governments. This meeting also gave me an opportunity to gain more insight on the work flow and process within our budgeting and finance office.
Visit to the landfill
A few weeks ago there was a sparsely attended press conference opposing expansion of a landfill in Person County. Following the press conference, there has been quite a bit of back and forth in the local newspaper about the landfill and whether or not the company contracted with the county is meeting its obligations. On Monday, along with the county attorney, Ron Aycock, I visited the landfill and got a behind the scenes tour. I had never visited a landfill or given much thought to the process, but it was interesting to see where the trash goes and what happens to the trash over time.
Overall, the processes involved in maintaining a landfill were pretty interesting. I hadn’t given much thought about what happens once a landfill is full, so it was interesting to see landfill spaces being built over with grass and trees. I also was fascinated by the systems in place to capture and move runoff water to tanks in the front of the landfill for treatment transport and the systems used to capture methane gas.
The experience of seeing a landfill in action gave me a better understanding of not only citizen concerns, but also people who have no problem with well managed landfills
The past couple of weeks I had the opportunity to sit in on meetings where information was shared or discussed with the County Commissioners. Unfortunately, I can’t share the content of those meetings, but I can say that the experience was helpful for broadening my perspective of how priorities are established and how decisions are made. It also provided insight into how elected officials and administrators interact and how priorities fit within the budget and the goals established within that document.
As I mentioned before things kicked into overdrive and I’ve hopped onto quite a few different projects ranging from economic development to writing content for the tax bill insert. Given the variety of requests for my help, I was told that I could always say no to a request (such as helping to fold, label, and staff ~800 letters to send to local business leaders requesting feedback on their broadband access and satisfaction). Since I have set the goal for learning and gaining a better understanding of county and rural government, I’ve tried to go with a “Yes and…” approach instead of “No”. This led me down a youtube rabbit hole searching for quick, funny videos related to improv. Instead, I found what I consider an insightful perspective on learning and what I’ve tried to do over the course of my internship experience.
Take a look:
“People think that improvisation is moving forward. What improvisation really is is walking backward…It’s backing up that gives you discovery”
Backing up, according to Keegan-Michael Key it creates a larger world-view. As I have been more involved in the work processes through projects with different departments and committees within the county, I’ve tried to get a better understanding of how things are currently done so that I can understand the necessity of change or the reason why things are done a certain way.
As I move into the last few weeks of my internship experience, I feel as though I have gained a better understanding of the relationship between government and citizens, as well as how public administrators navigate the overlapping and often uncooperative interests to affect change and make improvements. I have also had a great opportunity to see the interplay between state and local government, as well as the value of information, whether through talking with others or the knowledge people bring to the table in their work.
Over the next few weeks, I’ll be predominantly working towards hosting a human services networking event. This event is an opportunity for Person County’s human service providers to get together to build relationships, share updates, and hopefully leave with a little inspiration from our guest speaker (Thanks Professor Berner!). This event happens on the same day as National Night Out, which is an annual event designed to bring law enforcement and the community together for a fun night together. I’m excited for the opportunity to help facilitate bringing together so many people (You know how much I love community).