The Lyon County Commission discussed the possible creation of a Public Information Officer position Wednesday at its study session meeting at the Lyon County Courthouse.
The position is in the beginning stages, as the discussion centered around a PIO with possible marketing duties, or adding a position with several alternates. The county currently has two PIOs, country clerk Tammy Vopat who is the head PIO, and Vici Smith serving as back-up
“Some of the discussion was to see if they need more help doing the PIO position, and then we have our emergency manager Jarrod Fell through some discussions thought there may be a need for expanded roles in PIOs in marketing and media,” Commission chairman Rollie Martin said.
The position plays a key role through COVID-19, as it would help relieve burn-out among current staff.
Vopat suggested they need a PIO, plus a second and third alternate. Any person in the PIO role would also need FEMA training, she said. Vopat did not think the marketing tasks for the PIO was a good idea.
Smith said ideally three people is best prevent burn-out, but all would need the same training. The right candidate would have strong social media skills.
“What I do need is someone who is a media specialist to help with graphics when we are in a time crunch,” Smith said. “And putting out press releases. They may already be an employee; that’s more our need.”
Martin also asked whether there was a need for another marketing or media person for the county.
County attorney Marc Goodman said no, and said he wasn’t sure whether a PIO could accomplish marketing duties, not knowing the policies and guidelines of the county attorney’s office. The same standard applies to other elected officials.
“As Mr. Goodman said, all of the elected officials are independent, they have their own philosophies and ways of doing things — such as the sheriff and county attorney — and they are responsible through the elections whereas the commission has all the other areas,” Martin said.
The commission will hold its action session meeting Thursday at 9 a.m. at the Lyon County Courthouse.