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A Learning Approach

We’ve made it a very important part of what we do here at JJN Multimedia to approach every project objectively as well as maintain an unwavering desire to learn new things. May 22nd, 2019 was a very good example of that! On a very clear morning in southern WV, after packing the car with all of our video/audio/lighting essentials, we set off toward Charleston. With around an hour on the road ahead of us, we partook in the typical “known each other for years” banter that we’re all so very good at! For this project, we were tasked with creating a series of videos explaining in simple terms what a County Assessor does. We’ve always used the road trip to our work projects as a great opportunity to set a very lighthearted, fun and positive tone for the day. Beginning each journey like this typically has an infectious effect on our clients, who often begin to jump in and laugh with us throughout the day as well! We have a very good batting average in that department, I am happy to report!

So we’re in Charleston and we’re making the necessary turns to get to the Embassy Suites (where the main part of our adventure is for the day). After seeing the building several times while driving by it, it became clear that the main entrance had become what they would refer to in a Mission Impossible movie as “compromised.” Both of us are fairly familiar with the Charleston area from having done copious amounts of work in several different mediums there throughout the years. But for some reason, some strange reason, finding the proper entrance and pulling in was not going to be the typical 3 to 5 minute process that it usually is. We found ourselves circling the building a few times before seeing the detour posted reverting us to the opposite side of the property from where we were. After a a few boisterous laughs, we finally find our parking spot. We make our way, gear in hand to the meeting room where all of our subjects are engaged in an annual convention for the assessors of West Virginia.

Once inside the meeting hall, I was struck by a simple thought, “I have no idea what an assessor does.” After staying for a few minutes to hear some basics as to what a county assessor does, we made our way to the presidential suite to begin setup for the one on one interviews we were scheduled to conduct with a few assessors. The first gentlemen to offer us some of his time was Mark Musick, the Monongalia County Assessor. The second Mark introduced himself and began to interact with us, it became obvious that we were interviewing someone who had a extensive amount of experience doing what he does. Hearing him speak about an assessor’s duties and the responsibility that position brings was truly joyful. It is hard not to feel utterly inspired when speaking with someone who has truly dedicated to their profession. Mark broke down for us what it is he does as an assessor and also his desire to course correct any false narratives that people in the communities throughout WV may have about assessors. “People think assessors collect taxes. No.” Mark explained to us how an assessor places value on real and personal properties located in their county. The idea that assessors have a large impact on collecting taxes was simply incorrect. Setting that record straight and offering the amount of knowledge that he did on the subject made speaking with Mark a very eye opening and informative experience.

When watching the assessors interact with one another, it was clear to see just how motivated and happy they were to get the time with one another each year. Even if some of the assessor lingo is completely lost to most of us (it certainly was on me), seeing them bounce off of one another made for a very fun day. If there was one thing to take away from being with them for the day, it was that they care immensely about what they do and how their jobs impact their counties. Every assessor we had the pleasure to meet was very interested in the public being more aware of what it is they do and how their roles affect the citizens in their community. They all loved the idea of people visiting their local courthouses to simply find out who their county assessor is and ask questions if they have them.

After having an incredible amount of information laid on us and being given the opportunity to learn first hand what these elected officials jobs really mean, we shook every hand in the room, offered our gratitude for their time and carried our film equipment to the car. On the way home we had a conversation about what this type of work would be like if you didn’t have the desire to learn and grow. I don’t imagine a person would get the chance to experience all of the subtleties of and excitement of walking into a room without knowledge and walking out with it. That alone makes projects like this incredible. We were lucky to meet the people we met at that video shoot and even luckier that they felt the same way about us.

Written by Mike Browning

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