Cavalier County Commission discusses network security

The Cavalier County Commission held their regular meeting on Tuesday, June 20 with a full agenda of business to be conducted.

Posted 06/23/2017

By Melissa Anderson

The commission met first with Cavalier County State’s Attorney Scott Stewart to discuss a new state mandate for the SAVIN Victim Fee Resolution that is a result of the passage of the Marsy’s Law measure last November. The district judge will have to assess this new fee as part of that.

The commission and Stewart also discussed placing the domestic violence funding in the State’s Attorney budget. Stewart had no problem with placing it in the budget and the new fee but would require Cavalier County Auditor Lisa Gellner’s assistance in determining the figure in the future.

Next, the commission met with Cavalier County Tax Director Pam Lafrenz to discuss the Vanguard Assessment. The commission and Lafrenz mostly discussed the need for residents to be aware if they had missed the assessors and, given the chance, to allow entry into their home for the most accurate assessment. The assessors currently working in the City of Langdon will be doing so until the end of July, they believe, and will attempt to contact residents up to three times. The commission and Lafrenz decided to contact the head office of Vanguard and discuss options of the county providing contact information for the assessors to leave at properties. The issue was tabled until next meeting when the person they need to converse with is back in office.

The commission met with a majority of the Cavalier County Soils Committee to discuss a few items. The committee chair, Mark Schneider, informed the commission that they were thinking it would be most beneficial to the upcoming process to have the committee composed of the county assessors. Currently two of the five committee members are assessors. The commission disagreed with that assessment stating that it is better to have a wider range of experience and opinions to handle the matter. It was also noted that while the workload right now is on the heavier side for the committee, it will lighten substantially, and the committee will only need to meet once a year for review.

The final item that the commission discussed was the need for improved network security for the county courthouse as well as the installation of an IT service. Gellner explained to the commission that recently she reviewed and requested information on which computers in the courthouse network had paid for protection from virus software and attacks. The company, NRG, sited 22 computers were contracted with only 14 actually having the software.

This is highly concerning because there have been threats both voiced and enacted on North Dakota government networks in the last few months, and as a result NRG, which works with many of the North Dakota county governments as well as the state, is asking that counties create their own network safety net to combat and deter any attacks.

There is currently a security net at the state level, but it would only take one vulnerable county government network to completely cripple the entire state. NRG offered this safety net for a contracted price of $5,000 but would need a IT contact person in order to complete the protection for the courthouse network.

Cavalier County Emergency Manager Karen Kempert had provided some research and gave two suggestions for handling this. The county could hire an IT specialist from Oakes, work with NRG, or possibly see if the two can be contracted together to complete the protection for the county. After much discussion on the severity of the problem, the commission gave their approval for pursuing an IT contract with the individual from Oakes and working with NRG to protect the county network.

In Other Business

• The commission approved a beer and liquor license for Pembina Gorge Foundation at Frost Fire.

• The commission received the proposed budgets for the Cavalier County Recorder’s office and the Treasurer’s office.

• Tom Valentine discussed what the assessors will be expected to do for next year’s taxes in order to properly assess ag land values.