This past year was a busy one in Bannock County Government. Whether it was a demanding assessment season, a rare Runoff Election, or a bustling budget session, we got a lot done in 2021, and we’re proud of that. As time flies right past us, we want to take a second to reflect on a handful of our accomplishments from the past year.
1. Several capital improvement projects completed
Several Bannock County facilities received needed upgrades and renovations in 2021, including the Planning and Zoning Department, the Juvenile Detention Center, and Road and Bridge Department. Some departments moved into other facilities to better accommodate the public, these being the Coroner’s Office, Adult Probation and Pretrial Services, and Public Defenders.
2. Beloved public events revived
Bannock County revived the annual Independence Day Celebration at the Bannock County Event Center and Portneuf Wellness Complex, after having to cancel the event in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Thousands of people attended the festivities, which included a beach party on the Bannock Reservoir, the Cole Chevrolet-Nissan-Kia Car Show, a performance by country music artist Tracy Lawrence at the Portneuf Amphitheatre, and the spectacular fireworks display.
Also reinstated this year was the Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day Ceremony, which had been inactive for several years. For the 80th anniversary of the infamous attack on Pearl Harbor, Bannock County Veterans Services revived the cherished Pocatello tradition of tossing flower petals into the Portneuf River to honor the soldiers who died that day.
3. New software implemented to make County more efficient
Several departments and offices in the county implemented new software to be more efficient and manageable in the digital age. The Auditor’s Office finished the two-year process of implementing a new accounting and payroll software to replace programs from the mid-1990s. A new digital recording software that replaces an out-of-date manual stamp system was implemented in the Recorder’s Office. The Coroner’s Office is now paperless, thanks to a new software system that digitizes all current and future case files.
In October, Public Works Director Kiel Burmester began using the Cityworks mobile app in his departments. This app will more efficiently track upcoming needed maintenance of equipment and materials, including County roads.
Since the addition of the Q-Less System, customers of the DMV can now make appointments and avoid standing in line. Assessor Sheri Davies implemented the queuing system in April, allowing customers the option to join a virtual line or make a future appointment, and avoid waiting outside on North 6th Avenue.
4. More steps taken to make Bannock County ADA-accessible
This past year, Bannock County reaffirmed its commitment to being accessible to all individuals, regardless of disability. In 2021, Special Projects Manager Daniel Kendall developed and prioritized a list of projects to bring Bannock County facilities into ADA-compliance. Kendall completely renovated the restrooms in the Courthouse for the first time in 70 years, finally allowing access for people in wheelchairs. The Courthouse doors were also upgraded in 2021, to have ADA-compliant levers allowing easier access for the public.
In addition to improving access for the public, Bannock County also made strides to be a more accessible workplace. Human Resources director, Ryan Belnap, implemented a new interactive procedure for requesting and providing accommodations for employees and job applicants with disabilities. Using this procedure, County leaders provided several employees with accommodation that made it possible for them to perform their jobs.
5. New website launched to make County more accessible and transparent
As part of Commissioners Jeff Hough, Terrel Tovey, and Ernie Moser’s effort to improve residents’ experiences and interactions with County government, they initiated a complete overhaul of the County website for the first time since November 2014. The updates have made it easier for users to find the information they need to do business and live in Bannock County, both at their desk and on their phones. Some of the new features on bannockcounty.us are a County news page, more streamlined navigation, and a more user-focused design. With help from the Clerk’s Administrative Manager Nancy Allen, the website now features access to the Board of County Commissioners’ meeting minutes.
6. Preparations made for potential future emergencies
Just before the coronavirus pandemic turned life upside-down in Southeast Idaho, the Bannock County Commissioners hired Wes Jones as the Emergency Management Director. He went straight to work in 2020, and did not slowdown in 2021. This past year, Jones established a Regional Emergency Operations Center concept in collaboration with Idaho State University, the Idaho Office of Emergency Management, and the Disaster Response Complex. Through this program, the team has provided training courses to regional first responders. Along with continuous work to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic, Jones also updated Bannock County’s Emergency Operations Plan and All Hazards Mitigation Plan. The future looks bright for Emergency Management, as Jones works to acquire a new FEMA Mobile Command and Communications vehicle that can be used in all types of emergencies throughout Southeast Idaho.
There are just some of the many significant things Bannock County employees achieved this year, and we already have a lot developing for 2022. Here’s to another great year!
Other notable achievements from the past year include:
- The Bannock County Elections’ Office successfully conducted the first mayoral runoff election in decades
- Auditor’s Office received the Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting from the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) for the FY19 Annual Comprehensive Financial Report. This is the 27th Certificate the Office has been awarded. In addition, the Office received the Distinguished Budget Presentation Award from the GFOA for the FY21 Budget Book, an award they’ve received for 12 years in a row.
- Jeff Underwood, Courthouse Buildings and Grounds Supervisor, replaced the majority of the Courthouse lights with energy efficient LED light panels.