GLASGOW – Barren County Fiscal Court unanimously agreed on Tuesday to pay a graduate of the InterApt Skills-based BC Skills program $1,600 for a computer application he developed for management of road maintenance issues.
Tanner York, a 2019 Barren County High School graduate, said his goal was to develop an effective and efficient way to report and fix road issues in the community and save government agencies paper and time in the process.
“What R.MEND provides, specifically, is it allows magistrates and government employees to report and view issues, communicate them to others immediately from the app and it allows magistrates to prioritize the reports that come in and unprioritize them if they're not needed. It also allows magistrates to electronically or digitally save their reports or print them out, if need be, for filing and things like that,” York said.
The application has three user levels, administrator, supervisor and reporters, e.g. magistrates.
“All anyone wishes to report has to do is get a picture by either taking one at the scene or uploading it from a device, and they can simply upload it to the app and then fill out the information that's required and then they hit submit and that's all they have to do,” York said. “After that, it's sent to the database, where the administrators can then view it and do with it as they please – prioritize it, print it out or delete it.
Judge-Executive Micheal Hale said it may take magistrates a while to start using it.
“I've got the app on my phone now, and I dreaded going out and using it, but it's so easy ...,” he said. "What this gives … to you magistrates is the ability to focus only your district. You'll be able to see the concerns that you turn in; you'll be able to track the work as it is turned in.”
Once the road project has been completed, it would be erased, Hale said.
“This is a good communication tool,” he said. “And I've got to throw this out there, because I'm just biting at the bit to tell it, but we're the only people in the United States that have it. … I'm excited about it. I truly am. I really and truly am. I can't wait for another county to call and say, 'Come show us.'"
He said the county can build on this, and magistrates could provide their ideas on how to tweak it. Hale said that, for now, “we want to keep it in-house. We want to keep this to where we're using it, 'til you guys are comfortable using it, before we open it up to the general public.”
He said he hoped they take advantage of it because York had put a lot of time into it, as had Justin Browning, project manager for BC Skills.
“I'm just ready to get it off the ground ...,” Hale said. “Now, we don't want to put a dollar amount on what it would cost to create an app like this, but we're quite confident if we had to go outside [to get] it, there's no way we couldn't afford it, but we do need to compensate this young man for this app, minimal cost.”
Magistrate Carl Dickerson asked York when it would be available to other entities.
York said Barren County had some time where it would be the sole user, and Browning said he believed that period was until May.
Magistrate Trent Riddle asked who owns the app, and York said he believed he and BC Skills do.
Magistrate Mark Bowman asked about the different levels of users, and that was discussed for a few minutes.
Riddle then asked why, if the app was developed by York – “and hat's off to you, I think you've done a fantastic job” – at the school, which is paid for 100 percent by taxpayers' dollars, the county government should have to pay for it again.
York said the app was built partly at school, but most of it was done at his house on his computer on his own time after his graduation.
Riddle asked whether the $1,600 covered only the first year of use, and Browning said it was a one-time charge, then “It's yours.”
Browning, via an online videoconference, had said earlier that York's work “is an example of outstanding talent in Barren County.”
York entered the program with zero experience in programming and didn't consider himself particularly “techie,” Browning said.
“The small expense that the court is paying for access and the ability to utilize the R-MEND app pales in comparison to getting the same quality item from a development firm,” Browning said.
Browning had also provided an update on Cohort I, the first group, for the BC Skills initiative.
“We're about education, specifically computer programming and software development," he said, adding that innovation and deployment of the graduates and their products are the other key elements.
The first cohort, in 2018-19, had 35 graduates, a 97 percent success rate.
“That's really unheard of,” he said.
The typical rate is 60 percent to 80 percent, according to his presentation.
“We completed 21,000 training hours, plus 20,000 training hours since then in national- and state-level apprenticeships for software development,” Browning said.
Seven are completing apprenticeships now, he said.
Twenty-three of the graduates were high school students. Seventeen of those are continuing with computer science in higher education, and one is currently working in research and development here in Glasgow, he said. Of the 12 adult students, 10 are employed in computer programming right now, Browning said.
Cohort II will start in August and the plan is to educate 25 to 30 more in the community, including 11 to 12 adults on web development, he said.