‘Click off!’ county tells employees
Milam County commissioners will look at ways to limit access to social networking sites by county employees after a survey indicated the average employee spends as much as five hours per day logged into Facebook.
County Judge Frank Summers, presiding over his final commissioners court Monday at the courthouse, also noted the first nine of the top 10 “most visited” websites were non-work related.
“When you’ve got five hours a day spent somewhere besides the county’s business, I think it’s time we limited access,” he said.
Commissioners also okayed beefing up courthouse security by creating an armed bailiff to be stationed in 20th District Court.
And the county learned Milam’s indigent health program remained open all year, for the first time in seven years, and finished with $114,000 unspent in its budget.
FACEBOOK—Summers read a survey prepared by county technical consultant Michael Brown which concluded county employees were logged into Facebook between 3-1/2 hours (Wednesdays) and 5 hours, 15 minutes (Tuesdays and Fridays) daily.
It’s not only social networking. The survey found on “Cyber Monday”—the Monday following Thanksgiving—67 county employees shopped on 147 different websites.
Fifty-four visited eBay and 33 of those spend more than 45 minutes consecutively browsing the site.
The survey also noted since Nov. 1, 27 county computers became infected with a total of 352 Trojan viruses, 94 rootkit viruses and more than 4,200 spyware/adware “bugs.”
“Those incidents cost the county money,” Summers noted.
Commissioners authorized Brown to come up with a plan to limit employees access to social networking sites and revise rules and regulations.
“We realize there are legitimate uses for getting on Facebook by some departments,” Summers said. “The sheriff’s department and district attorney’s office use it in some of their investigations.”
“Perhaps we can come up with a plan where only two or three computers in those offices are capable of accessing those sites, then keep close tabs on who is using them,” he said.
The report noted as a “factoid” that 400 games of solitaire had been played on county computers since Nov. 1.
A RMED BA ILIFF— Summers said restored courthouses, such as Milam’s, typically have security problems.
“We’ve got four entrances but having something like metal detectors at each door, and paying someone to staff them all the time, just isn’t going to be feasible,” he said.
In lieu of that kind of security he recommended creation of an armed bailiff position to be stationed in the district courtroom.
“That’s usually the place where emotions run highest,” he said. “That’s where somebody’s children can get taken away or somebody gets half their income taken away (in a divorce).”
He cited the recent incident in Florida where an irate man opened fire in a school board meeting.
“I hate to say this but it’s not a matter of ‘if’ but it’s ‘when’,” he said. “There are enough crazy people in this world.”
Summers said the position will require a certified peace officer. “It will be funded by a courthouse security fee and not by ad valorem tax money,” he said.
INDIGENT HEALTH— Christine Box, coordinator for the Milam County Indigent Health Department, had some good news in her annual report.
Box said the department, which in past years shut down in September or October when funds ran out, stayed open all year in 2010, the first time since 2003.
It also has $114,656.77 left in its budget, Box said.
Summers commended Box’s “dedication and passion to her job and to saving the county money.”
She said the program is serving 52 clients.
MORE ACTION—In other business, commissioners:
• Reappointed Carole Simank, Dee Dee Green, Geri Burnett, Owen Rachel Graves, Adeline Kohutek, Mary Neely and Jackie Thornton to the Milam County Historical Commission.
• Named historical commission officers as follows: Burnett, chair; Delores Mode, vice-chair; Dr. Lucile Estell, secretary; Mary Ann Eanes, treasurer.
• Set 2011 meetings at the traditional times of 10 a.m. the second and fourth Mondays. County Judge-Elect David Barkemeyer had asked commissioners to schedule the second meeting of each month at 6 p.m.
• Okayed the 2011 program for COPsync, which places computers in deputy sheriff patrol cars. Chief Deputy Chris White said the computers allow lawmen to run license plate checks from the field and aid safety. “ You know right away if you’re stopping a stolen vehicle,” he said. Cost for 14 vehicles for 2011 is $11,751.60.
• Accepted the lone bid from Holt CAT for a Precinct 3 motor grader, subject to final approval by commissioner Dale Jaecks.
• Re-approved the county’s (sheriff’s department) medical director contract with Dr. Stuart Yoffee at $4,000 per month.
• Named Dr. S. H. Richardson as director of the county’s Local Health Authority at a salary of $14,500.
• Accepted road and bridge material bids as presented by commissioners
Most visited sites week of Dec. 9
1. Facebook 2. Yahoo 3. MSN video 4. eBay 5. Best Buy 6. Play.it (Internet radio) 7. Hotmail 8. KMIL 9. Walmart 10. State of Texas