County Commission | The Magazine August 2018 - Page 31

NEWS YOU CAN USE C Tips for welcoming new commissioners in November ommissioners are on the ballot in 50 counties this year, and a significant number of department heads will be answering to new bosses come November. Even in the smoothest transitions, newly-elected commissioners can encounter a steep learning curve as they assume their new responsibilities. For the orientation process, many veteran staff leaders create a custom “go-to” notebook for new commissioners. Engineer Randy Tindell started providing an orientation in Coffee County when the 1996 election cycle resulted in big turnover on the seven- member commission. The county had five newly- elected commissioners, and Tindell wanted any hard feelings from campaign season to stay in the past. He had been hired by the previous commission, but “I wanted to make sure the commission understood that I worked for them and at their direction,” he said. With that motivation, he put together a day-long briefing supported by a three-ring binder titled “What We Do and Why: Coffee County Highway Department.” More than two decades later, the most recent edition measures about 3 inches thick. “I try to answer every question they may have,” Tindell said, noting that he includes attorney general’s opinions addressing some of the most frequently asked questions, such as doing work on private property. Over in nearby Henry County, Engineer Chris Champion has followed Tindell’s lead. “All the credit goes to Randy for organizing it real well, as far as explaining how state law works, how state law governs the organization of a road department and then getting into the funding aspects of it,” Champion said. Of course, it takes some time to pull the information together, and scheduling a half-day or more of orientation time with a newly-elected commissioner can be challenging. “The first time I did it, the group was The Association of County Engineers of Alabama salutes its 2018 honorees! ACEA: An Affiliate of the Association of County Commissions of Alabama Brian Davis Rosenbalm and Eian Davis Richard R. Spraggins Scholarships MARSHALL COUNTY John F. Courson Excellence in County Engineering Award Mike Shaw MARION COUNTY County Engineer of the Year COUNTY COMMISSION | 31