Even though my daily work is dealing with what the County does, I still pause sometimes and marvel at the vast variety of things we’re involved in. The most diversified corporations would never dream of trying to run so many businesses.
Within each of those operations are all kinds of positions. I find it fascinating when I learn about some of the specialized work people are doing here, so I wanted to share a few of the interesting jobs with you. Some may not be especially unusual in themselves, but you may not realize you have County colleagues doing them.
On some of these, I’m using a descriptive title that’s different from the official ones HR uses.
Accident reconstruction specialist
The County maintains about 2,000 miles of road. If there’s a bad accident on one of them, the Public Works department has someone who heads to the scene, gathers evidence, and uses a 3D laser scanner to capture information and – as the job title suggests – reconstruct what happened. The job includes things like interpreting skid marks and understanding the physics of the vehicle. The specialist uses photographs and GPS tools to create 3D models that explain the cause of an accident.
Our nutritionist is not doing one-on-one consultations. She’s a public health worker, focused on getting whole communities eating right. That includes projects like getting people in underserved neighborhoods access to healthy foods, putting urban agriculture ordinances in place, and helping workplaces create support for breastfeeding mothers. Nutrition educators go to places like schools and farmers markets to put on cooking demonstrations and give lessons on healthy eating.
OK, I made that title up. But among the property whose value is determined by our Assessor/Recorder/County Clerk is exotic animals at SeaWorld. That includes killer whales, polar bears, penguins, seals, and so on – even a two-toed sloth! The Audit-Appraiser – that’s the real title – assigned to this needs special training, as you might imagine. They figure out the value for each animal for property tax purposes.
County parks – they’ve got a past. And two historians, one on staff and the other a long-time volunteer, document and share the stories of the land, from Native American times through the County’s early settlement and development to the modern era. The historians maintain and constantly add to an archive of photographs, newspaper articles and land deeds. They help make visits to County parks educational by preparing interpretive exhibits, and they often act as a resource for historical societies in the area.
That’s a title that does not do justice to the complex work of a geographic information systems analyst, but I started with something we’re all familiar with. The GIS staff does indeed make maps, but the maps are created using all kinds of data and often include analysis to help us understand trends or correlations. They can show us where in the County we have wildfire risk, disease occurrence, types of crime, and on and on. The pictures they give us are an essential tool in deciding where to direct our resources.
I had a column last year about many of the things the County does to battle bugs. They can threaten the local agriculture industry, native trees and people’s health. So we have a County entomologist as one of the leaders in that fight. The current job-holder, Tracy Ellis, examines thousands of insects caught in traps or found in plant shipments. She’s constantly on the lookout for any invasive species that could pose a danger here.
This one is not actually a County position, but a volunteer who has become a critical member of the Medical Examiner’s team. The office doesn’t just perform death investigations – it works with grieving family members. Chaplain Joe Davis founded a Bereavement Center to help those coping with the sudden loss of a loved one. The center is one of only a handful in the country, and Davis has received wide recognition for his work.
You have to be a landscape architect to know whether other landscape architects are doing things right. That’s essentially what this position in Planning & Development Services is doing. The architect reviews landscaping plans for housing and commercial developments, looking at things like trees along streets or in parking lots, pocket parks or other common areas. The architect checks grading plans and makes sure slopes are protected against erosion. Plans have to comply with drought-tolerant regulations and avoid invasive species.
Among the numerous things the County inspects are facilities that use radiation equipment, including X-rays. Places like medical and dental offices, research labs and various industrial operations. Health physicists make sure the equipment and materials are used safely and comply with state and federal regulations. They advise those who operate the equipment how to do so safely.
The County has its own TV channel: County News Center TV(formerly CTN). It carries our Board of Supervisors meetings live, shows stories about what the County does, and has a variety of public affairs programming. There’s a lot of specialized equipment involved, and the technology is constantly changing. Our broadcast engineer is tasked with keeping us on the air and looking sharp.
That’s just a handful of more uncommon positions at the County. The quick look is partly for fun, but also to serve as a reminder of the tremendous number of ways we serve our customers.
All the jobs, familiar or not, play a part in helping us realize our vision of a healthy, safe and thriving region, and your individual contributions are on my mind as we celebrate Employee Appreciation Day tomorrow. I offer my thanks to each and every one of you for the work you do in moving us toward our vision.