Chronicles of a Montana County Road Warrior in Southern Central Montana (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.

7/8/13 – Almost Wild Goat Skewer

Successful day one. It would be a success if the only thing that went right was managing not to hit the juvenile mountain goat as I rounded a corner along the Clark Fork River. He jumped the guard rail (better him than me) and a quick look in the rear-view mirror revealed he was ok and even feeling spry enough to pose for other drivers’ pictures.

At Mineral County I found Mary Yarnall is feeling like a new person since surgery.  It was wonderful to see her so smiley and filled with energy. She reported things are going quite well. JoAnne, her deputy, reported getting budget line error messages right after the first of the year and they were asking if there wasn’t a roll over procedure like there is for balance sheet accounts. Sure, there is. But I explained that the lines need to be loaded from Budget Prep and it doesn’t hurt anything to do this in advance of the end of the fiscal year. When I got to Staci’s office I mentioned it and she said that she figured it out when she got back from vacation, and wanted us to know that, “I used BMS Online Help to figure out what to do and IT WORKED!” I made sure to share her comment with our Documentation Specialist, Robin, who is the lead author of our continually improving Online Help system.

I ate lunch in the car on my way east. I am beginning to think this isn’t such a good practice. Ketchup on your slacks can be distracting.

The tourists are out; both domestic (Montanan) and foreign (everywhere else).  The traffic takes extra care. I can tell it is summertime when the nightly rate at the Super 8 in Livingston was slightly more than $135; granted, the town is one of the gateways to Yellowstone Park.  All of my stays this trip had similar or higher cost.  Last winter many places were still in the $90 plus tax range.

Stillwater County Courthouse

7/9/13 –Stillwater County

After a sales call in Livingston, I made my way to the interstate and the short drive to Stillwater County. I had a good, short visit with the commissioners.  A sign on the door explained it was closed to help keep it cool, but to come on in.  I did.  The three commissioners gave me a good welcome and so that was my cue to open my mouth and joke that it might take more than a closed door to keep it cool in there.  I learned that 30 minutes before I arrived, it was anything but cool.  Sometimes citizens can be cranky, though I didn’t inquire as to the exact nature of the discussions.

I tried to show Joe the vacation/sick leave longevity report that allows the leave to be updated after review.  I was able to run the report but not get the message to update the employee rates.  It has been a few days and I see that our support staff has since lined him up so he will be able to save some time from here on out.

On my way to Red Lodge I remembered why I like this country. You have to go there and really take a look around and you will understand.  It’s outstandingly beautiful.

What we imagine hiding in a porta-potty in a storm would look like

Red Lodge, Carbon County’s seat, is a very busy place both summer and winter.  If you have the time and inclination, drive the Beartooth Highway, over the 11,000 foot pass to Cooke City and on into Yellowstone Park. I’ve done it more than once and it is worth it.

At Carbon County, Treasurer Jane Swanson-Webb was out, but I did get to visit briefly with her deputy.  I visited with Angela Newell, the Finance Officer, and we had a good chat. They are doing great in their office even though the end of the fiscal year is mighty busy.  She did tell me about a hail and rain storm that was so bad over the 4th of July that every street was a creek.  She said they holed up in a porta-potty (temporarily) until they realized they needed to make a run for it or risk floating away.  Innuendo?  Maybe.

Rosebud County Courthouse

7/10/13 – Forsyth

After a night in the Holiday Inn Express, I woke up and hit the interstate eastward, expertly surveying road and traffic conditions while (also expertly) dislodging a poppy seed from between my teeth.  I put two and two together and realized that overnight I became an expert at Surveying and Dental Hygiene. Holiday In Express’ TV ads indicate things like this can happen.  (Okay, so that was a bit lame, but I’m not taking it out)

When I was in Forsyth last winter the temp was below zero, but today it was pushing 90.  I took some pictures of the Rosebud County Courthouse for our marketing manager.  She relayed back that the graphic designer wanted a vertical photo. Trying to oblige her I turned my phone/camera/computer/web browser/texter/alarm clock/timer so that it was vertically situated and snapped a good one.  Found out later that I was supposed to get squared up directly in front of the building, rather than at an angle. Too bad that Holiday Inn Express magic didn’t expert me up in photography.

I missed Geri. True to her word she wasn’t in. And just like she told me when I let her know I’d be stopping in, she was at a golf tournament.  I stopped by the Commissioner’s lair. Two of them, Doug Martens and Ed Joiner, were doing a pretty good job of holding down the fort. They didn’t know of any issues. I caught sight of Bob Lee momentarily while I was in the Treasurer’s Office visiting with Pam (Treasurer) and Norm Cline (Auditor with Olness), who had stopped by to help her with protests.  It seems a few schools and towns had taken protested money and spent it, which added a level of complication to her bookkeeping.

I finally moved on to Ryegate, a town right along the Musselshell River, where I planned to visit Mary Lu and Craig at Golden Valley County.  I walked in and was told my ears must have been burning. Uh-oh! Time runs slow here and that is good, because the thing burning my ears was about a week earlier, when Craig, along with almost everyone else involved with settling the Puget Sound Energy protest, had a few difficulties. He may have said some things.  But he definitely got his protests done!

Mary Lu was doing great. She showed me the cutest little gizmo that replaced a giant fiche reader. This still reads the fiche but displays the results on the computer screen.  Way to go, Mary Lu!

The tornado aftermath in Ryegate

Craig said they had a tornado go through the area a few days before.  I snapped a picture of the stumps of the trees that fell on the county building.  He said for a while all he could see out the windows were leaves, dust and tree branches flying by.  Nobody was hurt and most of the mess seemed to be all cleaned up.

It was about 6pm as I headed for Helena and I drove through both the Snowy and Belt Mountains. The creeks were just begging me to stop and fish.  I started reaching in back to touch my fly rod. It wasn’t there. Whoever packed the car must have been thinking about work.  Next trip it goes in, along with a fry pan.  I might just get a chance to stop and cook dinner.  I stayed the night in the capitol city and called on our Helena crew in the morning who were handing out mouse pads and pens out of habit.  As I left I think I heard someone ask, “Who was that strange (let’s put a mask on that) guy?”

Fortunately for me, my side kick is my pearl green Subaru who lets me rest and relax while navigating through all of Montana’s beautiful counties.

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