Second District County Commissioner Mike Schatz

Some Franklin County workers are frustrated because they read about issues in the newspaper before hearing directly from the county commissioners, health department employee Angie Hittson said Monday.

To deal with the problem, Franklin County government officials plan to set up an internal communication system  to disseminate information to employees.

Open Communication

The employees would  rather hear the news from the county commissioners “and have that line of communication before we open up the paper,” Hittson said.

She asked if The Missourian could slow down on reporting news.

Hittson said she knows the newspaper is doing its job, “but it does hurt because the message gets misinterpreted.”

She added, “They (employees) get it (information) in the paper sometimes because there is no chance to have a meeting.”

Hittson suggested the idea of a “mass email” being sent out to employees so they can be informed of changes before reading about them in the newspaper.

“Surely there’s a way,” Hittson said.

County Information Technology Director Larry Sikes said  Second District County Commissioner Mike Schatz has approached him about setting up the internal system.

“We’re testing on that (system) right now,” Sikes said.

First District Commissioner Tim Brinker said the commissioners will make efforts to get information to employees before it appears in the newspaper, but it may not always happen.

Right to Know

There’s no intent to bypass the news media with the proposed internal communication system, Schatz said.

The newspaper would likely be informed of the same information that went over the government system, he said.

“There’s nothing secretive in it at all,” Schatz said, adding that he hopes the system can be running in about a month.

Information that went across the system would be appropriate and in accordance with Missouri open records and open meetings laws, Schatz added.

Building department employee Tony Henry said the public needs to know what is going on in the local government.

“We’re a service to the public, so the public needs to know what’s going on,” Henry said during a Monday meeting when Hittson brought up the subject of the internal system.

The idea to create the system came from the Shared Leave and Personnel Policy Committee, which is made up of county workers from various departments, Schatz said.

He attended a meeting in which the idea was discussed and decided to try and get the project done.

Schatz said he wants county employees to be informed as much as possible because the decisions impact them.

Unified Message

The system could involve setting up computer stations, such as at the county highway shed, where workers could stop and look at the computer to see if any updates had been sent out over the internal government system.

This way, employees can get a unified message as opposed to hearing about issues through the grapevine, Schatz said. Sometimes when information comes from various sources the message can get “lost in translation,” he added.

With an organization as large as the county with more than 300 employees, the internal communication system should have been put in place a long time ago, Schatz said. The county is an organization with a lot of Indians and chiefs, he added.