Morrison resident Jason Blalock is the new supervisor of McMinnville’s Planning and Zoning Department. His first day on the job was Monday.
“For the last five years, I have been with the largest aerial photography company in the world,” Blalock said. “The company I worked for was Pictometry International. I have a wife and three children and it was a traveling job. That was the biggest reason for my decision to change jobs. I wanted to spend more time with family.”
Blalock is a 1999 graduate of Warren County High School. After graduation, he worked at the USDA Research Facility for a couple years before moving to Clarksville and attending Austin Peay State University where he obtained a bachelor’s degree in history, geography and political science and a master’s degree in management.
“While at Austin Peay, I went to work for the GIS (geographic information system) center there,” said Blalock. “I was employed as a student worker while I finished my bachelor’s degree.”
Upon graduation, he went to work for the Planning Commission for the city of Clarksville and Montgomery County as a GIS technician. He advanced to special project manager/ planner/ GIS manager for the department.
“I was highly involving in planning and zoning. I reviewed all the major and minor subdivision reviews for the city of Clarksville and Montgomery County,” said Blalock. “It was a bit different from here, as far as the amount of work flow goes. At some points, we would be reviewing 20 to 25 major subdivisions a month. I was heavily involved in the city’s rewrite of its zoning ordinance.”
After five years, Blalock made the change from government to the private sector with Pictometry International. He stayed with that company until December.
“I decided it was time for me to come off the road,” said Blalock. “This opportunity presented itself, so I applied for it. After meeting with (interim city administrator) Bill Brock, (human resource administrator) Jennifer Rigsby, and (former supervisor) Josh Baker, I felt that from an educational background and a work experience background, I would be a good fit here.”
While some individuals might think there is a new code enforcer in town, they couldn’t be fur-ther from the truth. Brock says Blalock was hired for his abilities to create a geographic information sys-tem for the city of McMinnville, while staff will handle codes enforcement.
“Codes enforcement will not be his thing,” said Brock. “He has people in his department to en-force codes. I want the city to go toward the GIS neighborhood. We’ve tried it twice and it has failed because we’ve never had anybody who knows enough to do it. Hopefully, he can get us there and keep us there and train other people to use it. It’s almost endless what you can do with GIS.”
GIS is a computer system designed to let people visualize, question, analyze, and interpret da-ta to understand relationships, patterns, and trends.
Blalock says the system, once established, can provide the city with a fountain of information.
“A geographic information system can be used for something as simple as location of fire hy-drants, to street center lines, edge of pavements, sidewalks, public utilities inlets and outlets for storm water systems, signage, utility poles, and utility line locations,” he said. “The last word ‘system’ per-tains to the whole thing and the geographical part is the location. If we are talking about a fire hydrant, where is it located? The information part is the spread sheet, which will tell you when the hydrant was last tested, what rate was it flow tested, when was it painted last, by whom was it painted, when is the next scheduled test. Of course, I’m oversimplifying it to a certain extent but a geographic infor-mation system is designed to give you information quickly and accurately.”
While the city has all that data, it is not in a centralized location that’s readily accessible.