Cass looking at online source of new revenue

By By JOHN EBY / Niles Daily Star
CASSOPOLIS -- Perhaps Cass County's most diverse department in the breadth of its duties, Information Systems has six employees, including Director Kerry Collins, a 10-year county employee.
Monica Peters recently joined as office director from Cass District Library.
Carla Murray is a computer technician, primarily responsible for networking support to keep the systems operational.
Jodi Nestich is also a computer technician who assists Murray.
Bruce Campbell is the address technician and the soil erosion and sedimentation control technician.
Jim Becraft is the GIS, or Geographic Information System, technician.
Collins said one of his department's primary responsibility's is administering the tax administration system.
Through charging back those services to other government units, Collins said his office generates $95,000 in revenue.
GIS "is a way of taking paper-based information that references geography and putting it into a computer system to produce maps and answer zoning questions, roads, property lines, water and the correlation of different layers of information.
Assigning addresses is a process which requires notifying various officials, from 911 and the post office to the township and its voter registration system. That process utilizes GPS -- Global Positioning System -- technology to map out new roads.
The Road Commission until 2000 handled the soil sedimentation and erosion control program to protect the waters of the State of Michigan.
Another large responsibility of Collins' department is to maintain and support other computer systems and e-mail at the Sheriff's Office, Animal Control, the Law and Courts Building and the 1899 courthouse.
A new duty added last summer with the advent of Law and Courts was the security access control system.
Many of its doors aren't controlled by keys, but photo cards employees wear around their necks.
Collins described the county's Web site as "static. It does not integrate live with any data. We've taken the approach of trying to develop our Web presence initially just to see how many people would actually use it. We're getting positive replies. People are starting to ask for more and more information on the Web. The Web is becoming second nature to many people. That's where a lot of information is stored and a lot of county information can be put out there" and published online.
Collins said five years ago Jackson County was generating $1,000 a month charging title companies for access to Register of Deeds records. Board of Commissioner meeting minutes could also be posted.

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