MAHONING COUNTY Data board meets, hires communications official

The new telecommunications director has Valley roots.
YOUNGSTOWN -- It took a while for the Mahoning County Data Processing Board to get together, but when it did, it moved quickly on three items.
The DPB agreed Wednesday:
UTo hire a telecommunications director.
UTo approve an agreement with Cboss, a Boardman-based Internet provider, to develop one all-encompassing Web site for all county entities.
UTo pursue a master agreement with SBC to provide all county phone services under one provider, a move that could save the county $1.2 million over seven years.
The new coordinator
Treasurer John Reardon said Thomas Fitzgerald will serve as the county's telecommunications coordinator.
"He seems to come with terrific qualifications for the job at a reasonable cost to the county, and I'm looking forward to working with him," Reardon said Thursday.
Fitzgerald will make $35,000 plus benefits, and will be paid out of the IT department's budget, the treasurer added.
Jake Williams, the county's director of information technology, said Fitzgerald is in his 60s, and went to South Side Catholic High School (now Cardinal Mooney High School). He left the area for several years, but has returned now that he's retired.
Williams said Fitzgerald, who earned his bachelor's degree from Youngstown State University, over his career has worked for IBM, MCI and EDS, a data transmission company.
As telecommunications director, he will be responsible for coordinating and managing all activities related to the county's voice and data network.
He will be given 30-, 60- and 90-day goals, which would include identifying all data/telecommunications vendors and accounts for the county; developing regular usage and service reports for all telecommunications; and developing a long-term integration plan of all county agencies' disparate phone systems.
Williams said Fitzgerald should be on board in about two weeks. He said voice and data are merging, and the county must embrace the new technology because, in the long run, it will result in a cost savings to the county.
Fitzgerald also will look at ways to consolidate the county's billing, which would also save money.
Going online
In June, the county commissioners first approved then rescinded a $54,000 agreement with Cboss. The commissioners thought the data board should further investigate before approving the expenditure.
Cboss presented its two-phase plan to the DPB to provide an integrated, comprehensive Web site for all county departments.
Williams said the county has varying sites on the Internet. Phase one would create a portal to provide access to all county entities currently online and allow departments to update, add and edit content as needed.
Phase two would implement additional services now lacking on the Web site. Williams said the plan is to get the process started with Cboss by Aug. 1.
Unified connection
Williams said the data board is reviewing the master agreement with SBC. There are a few formalities and questions the board wants answered before giving the agreement final approval, he said.
SBC estimates a $1.2 million savings over a seven-year period based on increased discounts from bundling the county's phone services into one agreement.
Outgoing Auditor George J. Tablack, board secretary, had tried unsuccessfully since April to get the board to meet to go over the issues.
In addition to Tablack, other data board members are Reardon; Commissioner David Ludt; Recorder Ron Gerberry; Clerk of Courts Anthony Vivo Jr.; Michael Sciortino, director of the county elections board; and Thomas McCabe, elections board deputy director.
Board members had cited problems in coordinating schedules for their inability to meet regularly this year.

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