During their first meeting of 2014 Tuesday morning, the Watonwan County Board decided to begin implementation of GIS. Essentially, GIS creates layers of mapping for virtually everything one could dream up, from wells, to sewer systems, to soil maps, said County Auditor Don Kuhlman. Part of it even entails a flyover to help in the mapping process, known as pictometry. Most other counties in the state have the system, and some Watonwan County employees have GIS knowledge already. The board accepted the bid from Schneider for $147,838, rather than Sidwell's bid of $155,690. Both bids were originally higher, but the county selected only certain options, which brought the price down. “The stuff we're not taking is stuff we're confident we can do here,” Kuhlman said. “We'll have a GIS technician do that stuff.” Both Kuhlman and Information Services Director Greg Walsh said this means the county will eventually have to hire a GIS technician, but that wouldn't happen for two-three years. Schneider will be paid on a 4-year schedule, and the money will be taken from the E911 fund and the technology fund. There's also yearly maintenence fees of $12,260. For the full recap of the meeting, please see Thursday's print edition of the St. James Plaindealer.