The Ottumwa Courier

August 20, 2013

IT director hiring will organize county

Courier staff writer

---- — OTTUMWA — Cleanup can now begin.

When the Wapello County Supervisors approved the hiring of new Information Technology Director Paul Culver during their Tuesday meeting, it was the jumpstart needed to reorganize the computers, buildings, Internet service and phone usage throughout the county.

Culver is coming from Spencer and has 20 years in the industry, including time with Gateway and two hospitals. He is also familiar with the IT process on the county level.

"I understand the priority is to save money, and I feel I can be effective with that," Culver told the board. "We need to bring together redundant resources and be more efficient with what is being used."

The vote was not unanimous, though, as Supervisor Jerry Parker voted against the hiring. It wasn't personal, though, he clarified.

"I know he is a very qualified candidate," Parker said. "If anyone from Ottumwa qualified, I just think we need to give them extra attention. I'm not against Paul ... but I think we need to give extra attention to people from Wapello County."

More than 30 applications were reviewed, six were interviewed and two were given a second interview. Parker said there was an Ottumwa candidate who was being interviewed.

"This is a chance to grow the community," Supervisor Greg Kenning said. "The charge to the committee was to choose the most qualified candidate, and this position requires a set of skills you can't find just anywhere. I don't envy Paul this task before him, but the community can grow with his set of skills, and I'm in favor of that."

Culver's hiring was approved 2-1 with Parker as the dissenter.

In other business, the board approved a contract with River Hills to provide medical, dental and behavioral health services for Wapello County's Central Point of Coordination, Jail and General Assistance offices.

"We want to partner with Wapello County and provide these services at a reduced rate," River Hills CEO Rick Johnson told the supervisors. "It's a whole new agreement, and it's a good partnership."

While an official contract was never in place, River Hills had accepted referrals from the county, but as more and more are being referred from the jail, CPC and GA, an agreement needed to be secured with a bill.

The supervisors also approved a $1,000 donation to the Ottumwa Economic Development Corporation for its next broadband initiative.

The board was approached by David Barajas about helping reach a goal of $6,000 to send people to Steuben County, Ind., to see what has been done with the community fiber optic data network project there.

Five other groups have already pledged $1,000: Indian Hills Community College, John Deere, the city of Ottumwa, Ottumwa Regional Health Center and Cargill.

"This is a critical part of economic development in Ottumwa," Kenning said. "The establishment of broadband is just as important as any managerial setup a city and county can have."