Software crash calls for emergency commission action

Regular meeting time changes

The Blount County Commission met Monday morning in emergency session to respond to the failure of the management software system containing all records for the county jail and sheriff’s department.

According to a letter sent last week by Sheriff Danny Morton to Commission Chairman David Standridge, the system contains all jail records, warrants, civil papers, protection orders, personnel files, arrests and incident reports. It includes “every piece of paper the sheriff’s department issues” chief deputy Wes Neill told the commission Monday.

Mortons wrote that the system crashed at least twice last week with substantial amounts of data lost, reentered, then lost again. The software provider failed to restore the system to proper functioning.

“This is not the first time we have had problems with this system. They are, however, starting to become more frequent, and serious,” Morton wrote. “The sheriff’s office cannot function properly without these files…We are in desperate need of a new software system.”

The commission considered these three bids for a new system: 1. Southern Software, Inc.

of Southern Pines, N.C.

Software cost $73,750
Annual maint. fee $10,650
Monthly cost $1502

2. Learning Systems Techologies

of South Carolina

Software cost $0
Annual maint. fee $30,000
Monthly cost $2500

3. Diversified Computer Systems

of Anniston

Software cost $141,900
Annual maint. fee $21,123
Monthly cost $3,193

It was pointed out that Marshall County last February installed a similar system, provided by Southern Software. Neill reported that the system has given no problems so far and that Marshall County officials have been satisfied with it and with the vendor.

The commission voted unanimously to accept the bid of Southern Software, authorizing the chairman to negotiate a fixed increase amount for the annual maintenance fee.

Funds to pay for the system had been budgeted in the 2009 fiscal year capital improvements account. It had been anticipated the commission would consider the software system for replacement later in the year

A quorum was present for the meeting with commissioners Pitts, Ryan, and Bullard attending, along with Commission Chairman Standridge. Commissioner David Cochran was absent, still recovering from recent back surgery.

The next meeting of the commission will be the work session, Thursday, Nov. 6, at 9 a.m. The monthly business meeting will be held Wednesday, Nov. 12, at 3 p.m., instead of the usual second Monday at 9 a.m.