I've been invited by the News Tribune to write a monthly commentary on the happenings in Cole County. I tend to be an optimist, so future articles will mainly be positive and will cover the workings of our various departments, accomplishments and pitfalls, and the great people of Cole County.
I am a visual person, so when I first came into office, I went and visited the county's seven buildings to see their operations and meet our department heads and elected officials. I went to the Courthouse, Health Department, Prenger Family Center, EMS, Public Works, the Sheriff's Department, Prosecuting Attorney, Assessor and even the public defender.
I was very impressed with our facilities, although it was quite evident we had serious overcrowding at the Health Department, and the Prenger Center needed an updating. We are remedying these issues. I learned very quickly about windows, HVACs and bathrooms.
I also learned quickly that when it rains, a lot of Cole County roads go under water. The first time this happened, we had about 30 roads closed. I called Larry Benz at Public Works and said "What do we do?" Larry calmly responded, "We wait for the water to go down and see what needs to be repaired." I felt somewhat better, and then Sen. Mike Kehoe and Congressman Luetkemeyer's staffers came to see me and offered aid. Sen. Roy Blunt's office also called to see if they could assist in any way, and I felt much better.
I've seen our Health Department ably handle Ebola and Salmonella, and have played a part in making our EMS the best in the state.
What has impressed me the most is the quality and professionalism of the people who work for Cole County. We have great department heads and more than 300 employees. As I get to know our employees I appreciate their knowledge, loyalty and integrity they give to their work.
Public Works does a fantastic job maintaining and improving our roads; our sheriff's deputies keep us safe; our EMS paramedics and EMTs save our lives; and our Health Department keeps us healthy.
Then there is our staff that run our offices and departments. We run these offices very lean, so the staff must multitask and wear many hats. They do a fantastic job. Our Commission Office is four people plus our attorney; and they do everything from finance, HR, payroll, purchasing, and proclamations. They are awesome.
I think state government operates much like Cole County. Growing up in Jefferson City, I have been aware of state government all my life, and it is still our largest employer. Newly elected officials always want to clean up Jefferson City and shrink the workforce. We can't shrink much more, and current employees earn their salaries.
I have great respect for all government employees, whether they work for Cole County, Jefferson City, the State of Missouri or the United States. Thank you for all you do.
Sam Bushman is the presiding commissioner on the Cole County Commission. He shares his perspective each month on county issues. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.