Supervisors gather knowledge, network at state conference

Debra Moore
Staff Writer


What do Herschel Walker and networking have in common? For three Plumas County supervisors, they were highlights of the California State Association of Counties annual conference.

“He was entertaining and right down to earth,” Supervisor Jon Kennedy said of the former NFL running back. “I saw nobody looking down at their phone while he was talking.”

Fellow supervisors Kevin Goss and Lori Simpson also singled out Walker’s presentation, during which he described his battle with mental illness.

“He’s trying to get rid of the stigma,” Kennedy said.

The theme of this year’s conference was Healthy Counties, Healthy California, with much of the discussion devoted to the Affordable Care Act. Under the new plan, mental health and substance abuse treatment are now covered.

Plumas County Public Health Director Mimi Hall was one of the presenters during a workshop titled “Healthy Counties: Improving Wellness through Innovative Public Health Programs.”

Kennedy and Goss attended the presentation and both said she did an “excellent job.”

Hall’s presentation followed that of San Diego County’s public health director and she said that many seemed surprised that a small county like Plumas could achieve what it had. Plumas County Public Health takes a broad-based approach to health by reaching out to various community partners.

Most of those in the audience were county supervisors and Hall said that her takeaway message for them was “rely on your public health department.”

The four supervisors who attended, Kennedy, Goss, Simpson and Board Chairman Terry Swofford, tried to attend as many workshops as possible. Other topics included water, travel and tourism, social media and agriculture and natural resources.

While the workshops provided good information, the supervisors said that the real value of the conference comes from networking with other supervisors and county officials.

“Again, the networking with other supervisors in the state is invaluable,” Simpson said. “It was good to see supervisors that were elected when I was and catch up on our respective counties.”

Simpson said that one of the workshops, “Social Media: Balancing Risk, Transparency and Innovation,” was filled with supervisors who learned about potential legal and political pitfalls. “It was suggested to supervisors that they should create a social media policy in our counties,” she said.

Swofford said that there’s a lot of good information at the state conference, but he prefers RCRC (Rural County Representatives of California) because it’s designed for rural counties.

During the conference he and Simpson joined the county’s facilities director, Dony Sawchuk, at the Federal Aviation Administration office in South San Francisco. Sawchuk is applying for grants for the county’s airports and the trio met with FAA officials.

But it isn’t all work and no play for the state’s county leaders. In addition to the workshops and meetings, officials could participate in a fun run or a “Bop Til You Drop Dance Party.”

The conference was held in San Jose from Nov. 19 to 22.

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