Computer proponents talk about hands-on experience. Well, the Salt Lake County Government Center will be happy to give you a "tootsie-traipse" experience through the new facility, with a witty and knowledgeable volunteer guide at the helm.

St. Anne's Catholic School took county officials at their word and brought Shirley Geary's fourth-grade class to tour the center.The class was divided into groups that toured with volunteers Marva Lortcher and Helen Martin, a former school teacher and Deseret News writer. Module teachers for the youngsters were R. Kent King and Kenneth McCleary.

Martin first took her students to the County Commission chambers, where she told them how often the commissioners meet (twice weekly, on Mondays and Wednesdays) and how to present a complaint should you have barking dogs in your neighborhood.

Next the students met with Commissioner Bart Barker, who explained how a commissioner is elected and what his duties are. Barker asked the students how often the commissioners meet . . . and the students were ready with an answer, having listened carefully to Helen Martin's presentation.

Judge Dan K. Armstrong was hearing a traffic case when the tour group came through his chambers. He told the youngsters how a jury is chosen (from driver license and voter registration lists) and explained that three out of four people who appear before him come on traffic matters. Martin mentioned that sometimes people have to come to court because of assault, drunken driving, shoplifting or bad check charges.

The guides switched groups about halfway through the tour, and some students went to learn about flood control while others were taken through data processing to see the computer center.

Operating supervisor Victor Hurtado told the students as they entered the climate-controlled environment that the huge computer complex handles 10 million instructions per second and has been working 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. "You might be surprised to know that we have more power here in computers than existed in the whole country 10 years ago," Hurtado said. He told the students that the computer center uses about 30 boxes of paper a day and showed them a laser printer.

When the students had completed the tour, Martin told them, "You have been excellent to work with. Will you please pat yourselves on the back?"

The citizens who take Salt Lakers on the government center tour richly deserve a back-pat as well.

Other volunteers serving as tour guides are: Rita Staley, Julia Erickson, Elaine Call, Ruby Hammel, Shirley Mantle, John Wharton, Rosalie Corey, Ruth Richards, Harriet Snarr and Buffie Sullivan.

The tours are a service to Salt Lake County residents and the program uses no taxpayer monies. The idea for the tour originated with the Office of Volunteers in Administrative Services, and Rose Defa can be contacted at 468-3335 to either schedule a tour or for volunteer information.