By LeAnn R. Ralph
MENOMONIE — In 2014, the Dunn County clerk’s office issued 231 marriage licenses and 110 timber cutting permits — but that’s only the tip of the iceberg.
Julie Wathke, Dunn County clerk, gave her annual report to the Dunn County Board on February 18.
In addition to marriage licenses and timber permits, the county clerk’s office manages elections; prepares and maintains the county directory and county board agendas, packets and minutes; oversees standing committee minutes; distributes library planning committee agendas and minutes; distributes payments to libraries inside and outside of Dunn County; provides supplies and collects fees for dog licenses; provides notary services and other services outlined in Wisconsin law; fields open records requests regarding resolutions, ordinances, election statistics and forms.
And then there are the changes in laws and appeals to changes in laws: yes, same sex marriage is legal; no, same sex marriage is not legal; yes, same sex marriage is legal; yes, photo identification is required for elections; no, photo identification is not required for elections, yes it is, no it’s not.
Wathke says she refers to 2014 as the “on-again, off-again” year.
Last year, the county clerk’s office provided oversight for four elections: a spring primary in February; a general non-partisan election in April; a partisan primary in August; a general partisan election in November.
This year, Wathke said, only two elections are scheduled, but since there were no primaries in the Dunn County municipalities on February 17, only one election is scheduled in April.
One of Wathke’s goals is to incorporate more youth in the election process.
To achieve that goal, Wathke found a volunteer high school student to work four elections last year and to find out more about the election process.
Wathke said her goals for 2015 are to provide more centralized training for election inspectors and to use the county board room for that purpose.
Wathke also plans to write a standard operating procedures manual for the clerk’s office, so that if something were to happen to her, someone else could step into the position.
When Dunn County Clerk Marilyn Hoyt died, there were no procedures documented to help make the transition smoother, Wathke noted.
Another project will be to index the county board minutes. The minutes have not been indexed for 12 years, she said.
The clerk’s office has received a request for records from the early 1900s. Those records exist, but finding them is difficult, Wathke said, so another goal is to archive and preserve the county’s records.
In addition, Wathke said she intends to continue the cross-training for the clerk’s and treasurer’s offices.
The deputy clerk has been helping out regularly in the clerk’s office during December, January and February for collecting property taxes, she said.
Kent Conklin, director of the Dunn County Transit Commission, reported that Dunn County transit buses had traveled nearly 150,000 miles in 2014 and that the buses provided over 180,000 one-way trips, with an increase in ridership by 40 percent.
Dunn County Transit has the lowest trip cost among all the transit commissions in the peer group and the highest number of trips in the peer group, he said.
Vaughn Hedlund, county board supervisor from Boyceville, wondered if there was a possibility of rural bus routes in Boyceville and Colfax.
It is absolutely possible to do rural routes. The only problem is figuring out a way to pay for them, Conklin said.
Establishing a bus route to Boyceville has been a discussion of the economic development committee, he noted.
Finding funding for 60 percent of a route is relatively easy, but finding enough people to ride the bus and obtaining local support for the other 40 percent cost of a route is more challenging, Conklin said.