Ken Jennings, the Murray super-Jeopardy winner, will be the keynote speaker for the Utah Association of Counties (UAC) Management Conference that will take place through Friday.
He won 74 straight games on the TV game show in 2004, earning him more than $2.5 million. The now-Seattle resident will speak as part of Thursday morning opening activities.
The conference, which is expected to draw hundreds of county officials from across the state, will include general and specialized sessions. For example, county commissioners and county council members will meet separately in some cases, as will auditors, clerks, etc.
“It’s a great opportunity for us,” said County Commissioner John Petroff of the conference. It has been held before at the Conference Center.
“One of the general sessions will be on proper handling of sensitive personnel issues,” he said. “I’m sure there’s going to be some discussion of the GRAMA (Government Records Access and Management Act).”
The GRAMA issue drew huge interest in the last legislative session, with legislation passed and then revoked during a special session 2 1/2 weeks ago. A committee is now reviewing options with the issue probably to be brought up again sometime this summer.
“Some of the small counties don’t have HR (Human Resource) directors like Mel Miles (Davis County public relations director). These guys (HR chiefs) are really well trained,” Petroff said.
“If we can impart to them (smaller counties) real life situations,” share experiences, that is one of the strengths of getting together, he said.
A multi-county appraisal trust group for larger population counties, including Davis, is also an issue UAC is working on, Petroff said.
“We’ve worked to get most of the bugs out of it, done everything we can,” he said. “A lot of people don’t even have full-time IT people. We have Mark Langston and an incredible team.
“We’ve committed to them (counties) to share some information but if we need to put a guy down there for a week and help them, we should. That’s a wise use of our funds. When the whole state is up and functioning on one single system, that will really make this all more equal. Nobody likes big fluctuations” on tax assessments, he said.
Other speakers will discuss “Investing in Volatile Markets” and the need for all public and private agencies to develop a disaster plan, among other topics.
“The Conference Center is a wonderful facility, so conducive to providing a really good environment to meet with counterparts,” he said.
Hotels and restaurants should also benefit, as officials from distant counties may stay over one or two nights, Petroff added.