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Identity theft education considered for county employees
PULASKI COUNTY, Mo. (Feb. 26, 2009) — County commissioners weren’t enthusiastic about a proposed identity theft service offered by Lori Matthews of L&I Risk Management at Thursday morning’s commission meeting.

Matthews told the commissioners that by offering identity theft and other services to county employees, they’d benefit themselves as well as county workers.

“How this helps the county is if something happens, people can’t come in and say, ‘You didn’t do anything to help us,’” Matthews said.

An additional benefit, she said, is that if a serious case of identity theft happens to a county employee, they could spent hundreds of hours of personal or work time identifying credit cards wrongly opened in their name closing bad accounts, and cleaning up credit problems.

Commissioner Bill Farnham wasn’t convinced.

“I don’t know if our employees want to participate or not,” Farnham said. “Our road workers are pretty down-to-earth individuals, they’re not into high-finance or anything.”

Matthews said even relatively low-wage employees often have credit cards or bank accounts that can cause major problems, and even the loss of a driver’s license can be troublesome.

“You would be surprised how many, once we educate them on the five areas (of potential identity theft),” Matthews said. “They don’t understand that if their drivers license gets stolen and somebody goes and buys drugs in their name, they are going to be spending time in jail.”

Presiding Commissioner Bill Ransdall asked if the identity theft education sessions would be mandatory. Matthews said that would be up to the county but isn’t essential.

“So if the employees choose not to, they don’t have to (attend)?” asked Commissioner Rick Zweerink.

After verifying that the sessions would be voluntary, commissioners agreed to permit Matthews to conduct the identity theft education meetings.

In other business:

• Ransdall urged Wilma Rowden, the legislative assistant to State Sen. Frank Barnitz, to push for a higher per-diem prisoner reimbursement rate to counties. Barnitz, a Democrat from Dent County whose district includes Pulaski County, tried in the last legislative session to obtain a large increase but the Republican leadership under the guidance of Sen. Gary Nodler rejected the proposal.

“Tell the senator to put an extra $10 per diem in there, and tell the chairman to keep his hands off it,” Ransdall said.

• Commissioners met with Richard Cavender, executive director of the Meramec Regional Planning Commission, regarding various funding options including a Devil’s Elbow bridge grant proposal suggested by Dixon resident Jerry Plunkett that would capitalize on the structure’s historic ties to Route 66 and the potential to turn it into a “green energy” bridge with a deck heated by solar power.

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