Throughout 2018, Webster County information technology director Nathan Morris worked to improve the courthouse’s IT infrastructure.
Morris was initially hired on last year as a contract worker for the county, and he was charged with the task of installing new cables to upgrade the county’s phone system. But Morris didn’t stop with phones; instead, he found a number of possible efficiencies in the IT area, and the resulting changes are saving the county about $1,500 per month. He’s a regular county employee now.
“The commission had been looking at a new phone system, but the infrastructure wasn’t in place,” he said. With a background in architecture, Morris was able to evaluate the existing system and see areas where efficiencies were possible.
Morris said that when he came on, each office contracted for internet services separately. “When we combined all those through Sho-Me, it was a huge cost savings,” he said. The county also realized increased internet speed, and the connection was large enough for Morris to put an internet protocol phone system in place.
Before, Morris said, county offices paid for 44 separate phone lines, but now the single IP phone system handles all of those separate numbers. “Everyone retains the same phone number, and the cost is so minimal,” Morris said. He added that even with fax machines, offices pay a few dollars each month for the minutes they use, rather than having a separate operating cost for each machine.
“There were a lot of ways we saved a lot of money,” he summarized.
Since he finished the courthouse upgrades, Morris has been working on the jail project and its many IT considerations.
Webster County Commission president Paul Ipock praised Morris’ contributions. “All I’ve heard has been nothing but good, and the savings have been tremendous,” he said.
Commissioner Randy Owens said that improvements to the information infrastructure has been a priority of the board since he and Dale Fraker came on as commissioners. “It’s been a group effort,” he said.
County clerk Stan Whitehurst pointed out that citizens benefit fro the upgrades in various ways. The county collector receives taxes online; the county recorder allows electronic filing of deeds; the assessor has tax maps online. He said that public wifi is coming, too, and this will allow visitors to the courthouse, including attorneys, to do their work.
“All of the offices are pulling together to update our systems and be more friendly to the public,” Whitehurst said.