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Columbia County’s land information director to depart

January 8, 2019

Almost a decade ago, Columbia County Land Information Director Kristen Anderson helped develop a computerized land information system that other counties wanted to acquire.

On Monday, Anderson announced to the county board’s executive committee that she’s going to work for the Neenah software company that licenses the system.

Anderson is leaving her county employment in early February to take a job with Transcendent Technologies of Neenah, a company whose website touts “government software solutions made easy.”

County Board Chairman Vern Gove of Portage said steps will be taken soon to get an interim successor in place before Anderson’s scheduled Feb. 5 departure, then later fill the post permanently.

County Board First Vice Chairman Dan Drew of the town of Pacific asked Anderson whether the job description of land information director should be updated in the meantime. That would be a good idea, Anderson said, since the description hasn’t changed since at least the mid-1990s.

Land information is one of Columbia County’s less-known departments.

The department’s website said the county board established the department to “coordinate the modernization of land records and to maximize the effective development, maintenance and use of shared land information system resources in Columbia County.

In March 2009, Anderson and John Hartman, who was then Columbia County’s director of management information services, came to the county board’s Finance Committee to seek the panel’s blessing of a proposed contract to allow the licensing of the computerized land record system that Anderson, Hartman and others had developed over several years. The committee authorized the contract, on the condition that the corporation counsel review the pact first.

Anderson said that arrangement has generated more than $110,000 for Columbia County’s general fund, from the one-time fees that other government entities pay for the system, based on the number of parcels recorded in the county.

She said she does not know how many counties are using the system, but some use it for their land information department, some for land and water conservation and others for both.

The system, which can be accessed on the county’s website (co.columbia.wi.us), offers information about more than 48,000 land parcels in Columbia County, including owners, legal descriptions, tax history and ownership history.

The system was developed to integrate information from various county departments that address land-related issues, including the register of deeds, planning and zoning and the treasurer’s office, Anderson said.

Other counties, seeking similar integration of their records, expressed interest in the software, which led to the licensing agreement with Transcendent Technologies.

“We’re one of the quietest departments, but we get more than 1 million hits on our website each year,” she said.

Anderson joined the department in 1997, and within a few years became the department head.

In mid-2018, she was a finalist for the post of Columbia County planning and zoning director — a job that went to Kurt Calkins, who is leading both the planning and zoning and land and water conservation departments.

Committee members unanimously praised Anderson’s work for Columbia County.

“You’ll be missed,” Supervisor Barry Pufahl of Pardeeville told her.

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