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New IT director has goals for county services

NATCHEZ — When Lance Bishop came on board as Adams County’s Information Technology director, he brought his toolbox.

Bishop said he looks at an IT job as similar to that of an auto mechanic — even though he may work for a company, he has to supply his own tools. In his case, rather than impact wrenches and ratchets, those tools are two test servers, a laptop, open source software and piles of technical manuals.

The Adams County Board of Supervisors hired Bishop in late August with an eye to saving the county money on IT services by having someone always on hand rather than having to contract services out every time something needed to be done. The county previously had an contract with IT company Premise.

While he is new to the area, Bishop is not unfamiliar with Natchez or Adams County’s IT system. For the last 12 years, he worked for Premise, and helped install Internet and e-mail systems when they were first implemented. He also helped install the imaging system in the chancery clerk’s office.

Since starting work, Bishop said he’s had two priorities — meeting with different department heads and figuring out what their needs are, and “putting out fires.”

Those fires included problems with the county’s e-mail and phone systems. And then there’s the usual IT wear and tear.

“A lot of the PCs in the county are out of date — the county is squeezing every penny out of those computers,” Bishop said. “The main server is nearly eight years old, and that’s pretty ancient in the technological world, but it is doing the job, and that’s a good thing.”

While his day-to-day work will consist of responding to IT needs across the county government system, Bishop said he has several larger projects in the works.

One is the implementation of a county IT system-wide software that will allow him to monitor every computer or device in the system.

“Basically, if the toner in your printer is getting low, it will send me an alert and let me know,” he said.

Another project is one the board has made clear to him they want it done — an update to the county’s websites that will allow people to view and pay their tax and county service bills online, as well as view public records like board of supervisors’ minutes.

Likewise, Bishop said he wants to develop an internal website for the county to help departments communicate with each other and to reduce the need for paperwork.

Another large project he has in mind would be to change over the county’s phone system from its current software, which is outdated, to a voice over IP system.

“With the phone system, I don’t know how old it is, but I know that no one will support it any longer, including the manufacturer,” he said. “When technology gets to that point, it is very expensive.”

The voice over IP system will be more expensive to implement, but will save money in the long run, Bishop said.

“It would probably cut our monthly phone bill in half,” he said. “I implemented a voice over IP system at the company I worked at before, and it cut our bill by 60 percent.”

Raised in a military family, Bishop grew up in Jones County and spent six years in the Navy, serving in Operation Desert Storm in a nuclear submarine. After receiving a medical discharge from the U.S. Navy, he owned and then sold a business in Alabama before moving back to Jones County, where he was hired out of college by Premise.

For the last six years, he has worked for the company at its corporate office in Clearwater, Fla.

Bishop is married to Alice Bishop and has two young daughters, Claudia and Juliet.