A significant step toward rebuilding Bartholomew County’s information technology department has been completed with the hiring of a new IT director, the county commissioners said.

“It’s a great time to reboot, reassess, move forward and start a new era,” said Scott Mayes, who began his new position Monday.

Since the August 2015 departure of former county IT director Jim Hartsook, seven employees have resigned from the department, including two replacement directors. The final employee resigned in late August, leaving the county to farm out its IT operations to contractors.

Most of the former county IT specialists cited higher salaries and better benefits available in the private sector as a prime reason for their departures.

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Mayes will be paid $94,000 a year. That’s the same amount offered to Robert Scott Henry during the summer. Nevertheless, Henry left the position Aug. 31 after three days to accept a similar position in his hometown of Franklin.

That’s 45 percent more than the previous two IT directors — Hartsook and Jeff Wehmiller, who resigned last April after six months — who were earning $65,000 annually when they stepped down.

But aside from salary issues, remaining workers in the IT department also were uncooperative with both of Hartsook’s successors, displayed a sense of entitlement and openly said they didn’t feel supported by elected officials, commissioner chairman Rick Flohr said in August.

The position was offered to Mayes after he agreed to follow specific guidelines that includes working with all elected officials, the Bartholomew County Data Board and an outside managed services firm, commissioner Larry Kleinhenz said.

Accepting the position is somewhat of a homecoming for Mayes, 42, who managed the county’s IT staff from 1997 to 2005. However, he understands that home hasn’t been occupied for a few months.

For the past few months, the commissioners have stressed they will not make permanent decisions regarding the future of the IT department until a new director is given the opportunity to provide input and guidance.

“We’ve got to get a director on board, and I’m glad we decided to pull the trigger here,” commissioner Larry Kleinhenz said.

But it will likely be December before Mayes is prepared to sit down with the commissioners to begin discussing permanent changes, the new director said.

While Kleinhenz said a second county-employed IT specialist may be hired, all three commissioners are advocating a hybrid staff of both county and outside specialists.

Mayes said he believes it’s a wise and sound strategy.

“Having that hybrid is going to be an important part of business continuity,” Mayes said. “We want to be in a position where, if we lose staff, we can rely on vendor partners.”

After Mayes left the county’s employment 11 years ago, the 1992 Columbus East graduate accepted a position with Indiana Bank and Trust Co. as information security officer and infrastructure manager before becoming a consultant for the Poshard Drive office of Indianapolis-based Tls.Net Inc. in 2012.

While admitting the systems being used today are different from when he last was employed by the county, Mayes emphasized that his own professional knowledge has continued to evolve over the past 11 years.

“I’ve been consulting for almost five years, so I’ve had the chance to see several different types of technology,” Mayes said. “The county has systems I’m very familiar with.”

On Monday, Mayes expressed confidence in the current IT consultants now working with the county’s computers.

Sharp Business Services employee Danny G. Harman, who worked as a systems administrator for the county from January 2006 to February 2011, has been managing the computer systems for the past few months.

Besides employing a rare mixture of skills and knowledge of the county’s computer systems, Mayes is also well-liked and easy to get along with, Kleinhenz said.

“We’re taking slow steps, but we’re getting better every day,” Flohr said.

Mayes’ hiring took effect about a week prior to Tuesday’s election.

People who depend on the county’s website for updated election results should anticipate nothing worse than normal hiccups on Nov. 8, Bartholomew County Clerk Jay Phelps said.

That’s because former county IT director Jim Hartsook, as well as computer specialist Craig Pekar, remain under contract in an effort to ensure the smoothest possible operations at all of the county’s 18 voting centers, as well as the posting of real-time online results, Phelps said.

The original contract approved in early 2015 included the securing services of both information specialists for this year’s presidential election, as well as last year’s city elections, county elections supervisor Shari Lentz said.

Since there will be no election in 2017, Mayes and Lentz’s staff are expected to be trained in handling the election software. That way in the future, they can handle any potential election-related problems themselves, Phelps said.

Scott Mayes

Age: 42

Education: Columbus East High School, Class of 1992

Training: Certified Information Systems Security Professional

Experience: Business Information Security, TLs. Net., April 2012 to October 2016; Information Security Officer/Infrastructure Manager, Indiana Bank and Trust Co., June 2004 to April 2012; Director of Information Services, Bartholomew County, April 1997 to May 2005

Hobbies: Animal lover

Family: Mother, Linda Mayes; sister, Beth Cordes

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Mark Webber is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at mwebber@therepublic.com or 812-379-5636.