Chronicles of a Montana County Road Warrior in Libby, MT (Guest Blog)

by: David Morton, Customer Solutions Coordinator and Guest Blogger for the BMS County 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 13, 2012 -Libby, MT

Well its Sunday, three days after my day two ended (WARNING: Day 2 material just isn’t as fresh as Day 1 and may contain unintended embellishments). But let’s go back…back into the murky world of memory…. Like in the movie Ground Hog’s Day with Ben Affleck….oh wait I mean Bill Murray…nonetheless, my eyes snapped open to the same alarm.

Bleary eyed, showered, shaved, and dressed, I double knotted my shoes and learned I wasn’t destined to endless do-overs leading to a personal, and perhaps somehow, a virtuosic renaissance afterall. I was in Libby, and Libbyloggertawney Bill, their famous weather predicting beaver, had just gone to bed (not really, I just made that part up) ensuring an early start to winter.

Dashing through the snow, I was on my way to visit Lincoln County.   Unlike the Day 1, I arrived at the scheduled county clerk and recorder office on time. The very cordial Clyde Ross ushered me to Tammy’s desk and offered me coffee while I awaited her arrival.  Very shortly after, the word came that Clerk/Recorder Tammy Lauer was unfortunately home ill. I was sorry I didn’t get to say hi, but I will catch her next time.

Making sure my visit was still productive, I became reacquainted with Leigh Rigglemnan, the Elections Clerk, before working on several questions posed by Vicki French. We were able to track down some missing report menus in Document Indexing. Vicki had read about new reports in one of our newsletters but couldn’t find them in the software. It turns out that with her security settings she doesn’t automatically see new menu items (that only happens if your security is set to “Admin”). So she is going to get her security admin to give her rights to the reports.

Once given her admin rights, Vicki will be able to take advantage of the new system reports. Vicki had been searching her email to find the newsletter containing the story about the reports. I suggested taking a peek at our Change Log found on the ADMIN menu; if you can’t find the newsletter in your In Box, you can login to our website and find all of our newsletters, or better yet go to the software Change Log to quickly locate and read about changes. But, Ooops!  It turned out she did not have access to the Change Log also because of the security settings (the Change Log is found under the Admin menu). She needs to ask for access to that as well.

We also discovered a goofy error while I was showing her Advanced Inquiries. So with my superhero cape on, I dialed Jodi back at headquarters and left a message.  I didn’t expect to hear back from her before Vicki and I parted ways, but then the phone rang. It was Jodi, and the error was fixed. Now all Vicki needed was an update. Cool!  I wish I could say that’s how it always works, but sometimes it takes a little longer.

While there, I also visited with Jeannie, the recording clerk. Jeannie Dennis has been the recording clerk for quite a while. She was there when we installed Document Indexing in 1998. And so was I.  Jeannie wasn’t the only one who worked at Lincoln County when BMS installed our software.  I found a couple others in the Human Resource office: Bill Bischoff and Diane Davies. It was good to see them. I had worked with Diane extensively during the payroll install and Bill was an important player in helping the county choose BMS’s solutions back in the late 90’s. Diane and Bill told me about an idea for a new feature for our development team to consider that involved some automatic processing. I will pass it along when I get back to the office; I am sure our development team will give it careful consideration.

Another person I was introduced to was Dallas.  She is relatively new to BMS software, so when she gets the chance to take advantage of our online mini training sessions, she does! I was able to show her a couple of features in Payroll, including the much improved Online Help system. I showed her how she could easily stay on top of prior eligible service using the longevity date and longevity reports. In addition, she was looking for a mechanism to help her manage pre-payroll tasks…you know, those things you better do before you run payroll if you don’t want cranky employees? We took a look at the Payroll Tasks function. Once it’s set up, the tasks are automatically presented when you log into Payroll. Dallas thought that would be a big help, so she is planning on giving it a try.

It is lunch time. So off I go in search of a dining establishment, which turns out to be Henry’s. When I walked in, I thought, “Uh-oh, mostly retired folks,” and started thinking I might see some canned corn on my plate.  Instead, to my surprise, I got the best fresh French fries and non-greasy chicken tenders. Sated, I paid the tab and headed back to the county offices to meet with treasurer, Nancy Trotter Higgens.

Nancy and I talked about merging the motor vehicle department with the treasurers, and the corresponding remodel that now accommodates the staff in one place. We talked Tax Increment Finance District (TIFDs) and some other serious things. She indicated if all Lincoln County schools used Black Mountain software, it would be easier for her and the schools because a lot of manual work would go away. She mentioned now that Fortine schools is using BMS the distribution, the redemption and reporting process is far easier.

Then the conversation turned back to TIFDs. She told me that talking to Bonnie in the Assessor’s Office would be enlightening. So we bid each other goodbye and I headed across town. The City of Libby is in the same building that houses the Assessor. The City is another Black Mountain Software customer.

I drove by a giant iron eagle sculpture on my way. It communicates a part of Northwest Montana culture. It turns out that the artist, Todd Berget, who created this magnificent work of art resides in the area. He specializes in eagles and there are a number of his smaller (but still big) works displayed around town. The city is considering erection of another taloned bird with a 50ft wingspan. It would be larger than the one in Dollywood, Tennessee, which is claimed to be the largest in the world.

Enough about that, though. I made it to my destination, parked, and stuck my head in the City office with the idea of saying a quick hello to Glena, the City Clerk. She was out but I got to meet Tanya and Donna, the Utility Billing Clerk and Assistant Clerk, respectively. Being mid-December in Montana, daylight was nearly gone as I headed to the Assessor’s office. Bonnie had a lot of stuff to show me about TIFDs, and a few things managed to lodge in my head. Of course, the challenge now was how to get it un-lodged when I’m back in my office.

Hopping in my little black Ranger pickup, I headed southeast for Kalispell, and then south to Polson. I watched for deer, and saw only one. I also discovered that there still was no cell service for most of the trip between Libby and Kalispell. I don’t know why that surprised me, as there wasn’t any the last time I visited our clients in that beautiful valley.

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