Ozaukee County may go high-tech on computer network

Ozaukee County may go high-tech on computer network

TOM CIONI

The Journal staff

Information you desire or need from your local government soon may be coming to a computer screen near you.

Omnifest, a community computer bulletin board service of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, may offer a link to residents of certain Ozaukee County communities to peruse agendas. Anytime. For free.

At least that’s the plan.

Getting to that point, from the perspective of the governments, is not that simple, said Harold Dobberpuhl, Ozaukee County clerk.

“In theory {listings on the service} can include anything we’ve got in the building, but nothing happens automatically. Obviously, we’re not going to spend thousands of dollars to make something available to a few people,” Dobberpuhl said.

Ozaukee County’s leap into the limitless world of the Internet computer network will be small and incremental: about a dozen County Board committee agendas produced by Dobberpuhl’s office. These would include the County Board, the Finance Committee and the Personnel Committee, among others.

“We’ll see how that works before going ahead,” he said. Some Agendas Not Included

A committee that oversees the county’s management of information decided in February to provide county information for computer postings if possible.

About 20 more agendas that are typed by individual departments outside the main county building will not be included. These would be include the Highway Commission, the Social Services Department and the Lasata Nursing Home.

Staff time to manage and transfer information would be another factor limiting how far the county jumps into the computer age.

If agenda listings work out, other items that could be put on the computer bulletin board would be County Board minutes, ordinances and resolutions, and maybe even the county directory. The directory contains not only county information, but departmental and phone listings for each of the municipalities in the county.

Other governments that may have their meeting notices listed on Omnifest are the City of Cedarburg and the Town of Cedarburg. Jackie Dekker, Cedarburg city clerk, said the city’s participation was possible, but months away. City officials plan to further explore the feasibility of the idea. Getting the Data On-line

If initial efforts are successful, the possibilities for learning more about local government by home computer are tremendous.

David Barrow III, who owns Stonewall Computer Center in Cedarburg, is helping the three units of governments set up the systems to put their agendas on the computer service. Because the governments may not have the computer equipment to send information directly to Omnifest, “sneakernetting” may be necessary, he said.

Sneakernetting is where information stored on diskettes is carried physically from one computer to another that has the capability to transmit the information to Omnifest.

Barrow hopes the county can have some information posted on Omnifest within a few weeks to a few months.

Barrow believes that one day the municipalities in Ozaukee County could have very detailed information listings on the system that could provide residents with loads of governmental information.

“If you know a Town Board meeting is the first Wednesday of each month, you could look up at your own convenience at what’s on the agenda. If your ox is being gored, then show up,” Barrow said.

He’d like to model the county’s information after Milwaukee city and county listings already on Omnifest. These offerings include:

A history of the municipalities.

Phone and departmental directories.

Economic development information about municipalities. This information can be very important because Omnifest is available through computer networks and can be accessed worldwide.

Job information.

Ordinances and resolutions, passed and pending.

A message board where residents can post messages for government officials to answer.

Access to Omnifest is free for those seeking just to browse the bulletin board information. Omnifest also provides a entry to the Internet, for a yearly subscription of $25. A user is limited to one hour of Internet access at a time.

Copyright 1995

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