News Column

Culver improving county's IT Department

February 6, 2014

By Josh Vardaman, Ottumwa Courier, Iowa

Feb. 06--OTTUMWA -- When Paul Culver was hired on as the Wapello County Information Technology director in September 2013, he had a long to-do list in front of him.

"There's a lot of catching up to do," Culver said.

Before he was appointed to his position, there was no IT director for Wapello County, and, according to Culver, the separate county departments were basically fending for themselves in their respective IT departments.

"Each department would do their own thing," he said.

That is just one of the many areas he has worked tirelessly on to try and change so he can help the county run more efficiently. Culver has been trying to get all of the county's departments to work on the same Internet network, email and phone system so they can share information and get in touch with each other much faster and more efficiently. The current phone system is upwards of 20 years old, Culver said, and a lot of the PCs and servers are at the end of their lives.

When making the important changes that Culver is looking at, however, IT directors have to be very precise and know which decision needs to be made.

"A lot of times in technology you make dead-end decisions," he said. "You need to make sure you make smart choices."

Culver was brought to Ottumwa to be the county's IT director thanks to a recommendation made by the Iowa Counties Information Technology (ICIT) Organization after they performed an assessment of the state of information technology in the county's departments. They also gave him a list of recommendations about things to work on, and, according to Culver, he has gotten about halfway through the list. However, the job is never ending.

"Every time I turn a corner, there is a computer or machine that I didn't know about," he said. "The day-to-day operations and relationship-building is an ongoing process."

Now that he has made it through about six months on the job, Culver said they are looking at implementing some new additions to the county's departments. Other than just making sure the entire county is on the same network, he said they are trying to get computers put into the sheriff deputy's cruisers, just like the ones that are used by the Ottumwa Police Department and Highway Patrol.

Putting computers in the cruisers would allow the dispatchers at the Wapello County Law Enforcement Center to see where the deputies are at any given time. That way, when emergencies occur, the dispatcher would be able to see if there was a deputy in the vicinity of the emergency so he or she could get there very quickly.

In addition to all of the changes Culver is making in the county's IT field, the job requires him to be ready to go to work at a moment's notice.

"There are a lot of areas that need to be up and functional at all times," he said.

Currently, though, waking up at weird hours to handle something at work or being on the job through the weekend is not bothering Culver's family right now since they still live in Spencer, located in the northwest corner of Iowa.

His wife, Lesley, and their three children, Jennifer, an eighth-grader; John, a senior who will be attending Morningside College in Sioux City next year; and Brittany, 19, who will be attending Indian Hills next year, will hopefully be joining him in Ottumwa by the end of June.

With Culver at the reins, it appears that the status of the IT Department for Wapello County is in good hands going into the future.

-- To see reporter Josh Vardaman's Twitter feed, go to @CourierJosh


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Source: Ottumwa Courier (IA)

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