Chronicles of a Montana County Road Warrior (Guest Blog)

by: David Morton, Customer Solutions Coordinator and Guest Blogger for the BMS County Clerk Traveling Road Show Series

These are the chronicles of one David Morton, road warrior on a mission to solve client problems for Black Mountain’s Governmental Accounting Software.  What you are about to read is real.

December 12, 2012 – Mineral County (9am), Sanders County (1pm)

Bleary eyed, showered, shaved, and dressed, my double-knotted shoes are ready to venture out on the Northwestern Montana loop. Had I started with Libby instead of Superior, you could imagine me as a Montana stock car road warrior: antlered helmet, fur-covered fish in the back of my pickup, always turning left, and making multiple pit stops until I end back home. However, I started by going to Superior first, which means always turning right instead of left, and that just isn’t the stock car racing way!

It was an interesting trip to Mineral County.  Just before Ravalli, a big male coyote (rough character if I have ever seen one) was sitting on the other side of the road…hitchhiking. He had such a friendly smile that I may have stopped to pick him up, had I been going the same way, but it’s a good thing I didn’t because it turned out I was running a bit behind. I had forgotten to build in a “leaving late allowance” like I normally do, so at 9:01 am I had to call Staci Hayes, Mineral Clerk and Recorder and tell her I was still 6 Montana miles from town. Thankfully she was understanding and forgave me.

I had a great visit with Staci, Kasey, and Kelann, the Mineral County C&R Crew.  Even though I am a bit rusty after my nearly two year sabbatical from BMS, I was able to assist Kasey in shaving some time off of processing those big, old, long power and phone bills. I showed her how she could set a claim as recurring so that in following months, all she needs to do is edit a few items on the new claim rather than re-entering many, many lines to create a new claim from scratch. I think she was a happy young lady about that!

I also had a great visit with Mary Yarnel, the Mineral County Treasurer. I pestered her over and over that surely there must be some kind of problem I could help her with.  She kept insisting that everything was fine, but I did manage to find a small problem related to her computer. Of course ever in pursuit of being the hero, I said, “Let me call our office; this should be simple and won’t take long.” Well instead of 5 minutes, the computer problem turned out to be a bit complicated and took longer. In the end, ReSena and Bob were heros because they got the problem fixed. And me…lets just say my cape was not all a-flutter.

After a truckstop lunch in St. Regis, I was heading north and west to Sanders County. Just after leaving the town of Plains, where the highway meets the Clark Fork river (which is a heck of a river if you ask me), I came upon a giant flashing sign that said, “CAUTION: Big Horn Sheep in Road next 1 mile.” Blinking on and off, on and off, it certainly got my attention. So, keeping my eyes on the road, looking for sheep, I was not surprised to see some off to the side of the road – but after coming around the next bend there one was right in the middle of the road and I was thinking, “Wow! How the heck did they know?”

I arrived in Sanders County with time to spare (I must have built “late departure” into this calculation), and I was looking forward to my appointment with both the C&R office staff and Carol Turk, Treasurer. I met all the ladies at the clerk and recorders office except Jennine who, unfortunately, is undergoing chemotherapy and wasn’t feeling well enough to be in the office. I sure wish her the best, and hope to see her on my next visit.

I visited with Brenda, Lynne, and Lisa, and no one had any problems or requests. They said everything was going just great with their Black Mountain software. However, Lisa did come up with a question. She wondered how to set up recurring claims to help her speed her claim entry each month.  I was surprised  to hear this, as I had just helped Kasey in Mineral county with the same thing! In the process of showing her how to set them up she asked where she could print a list to help her see what was there. We looked under transaction reports but couldn’t see it. I said, “Hey! Lets try the Black Mountain Software Online Help system!”  So we did. We searched “recurring” and found the report, which was under….wait for it….that’s right! Transaction reports. It was great to have her question answered, but most importantly Lisa was very impressed with how easy it was to use the Online Help system. In the end, it may have been our Help system that was the hero for Lisa.

I had a good visit with Carol at the Sanders County office. When she and I shook hands, we exchanged a pretty good jolt of static electricity. Fully energized, we talked about several issues with which she is happy with progress we’ve been making. She told me her downloads, tax billing and receipting went very well this year. When I departed, I shook hands with her again and…well…another jolt of static electricity!  We got a pretty good laugh out of it because I said something silly containing the word “shocking.” The important thing though, was the mutual good laugh.

Near the end of my day, and just before arriving in Libby, I saw a much bigger horned sheep than before.  Some guy in a pickup (not me) was backing up in the middle of the road, trying to either get a better view.  Or perhaps, in this part of Montana, a clear shot. I went on around wishing both the sheep and the guy driving the truck good luck.

After driving 270 miles, and with several restaurants close to my digs for the night, The Sandman Down Under motel, I elected to drive nine miles up the Yakk through fog, slushy snow, and slick roads to eat at the Red Dog Saloon. It was worth the drive up and back. The food was decent, and the bar was warm and cozy – wood fire, friendly folks, and peanuts. And the best part….the shells go on the floor.

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