Digital Upgrades Speed Up Adams County, Pa.

The upgrades, including replacement of the county's 17 existing network switches, will allow programs and data to be centralized on servers located in the courthouse.

by Mark Walters, McClatchy News Service / August 27, 2014

Adams County's IT staff is continuing a $680,000 digital infrastructure upgrade that will bring the county out of its roughly seven-year technological lag.

For the fiber optics and software, the county paid $330,000, roughly $30,000 less than it had budgeted, said Marty Qually, Adams County commissioner.

The county was able to benefit from different upgrades and additions in the contract because the company, Link Computer Corporation, really wanted to work with Adams County, Qually said.

With the courthouse's fiber optic cables already in place, the network's new virtual desktop hardware will be installed in the coming months, said Steve Scherm, IT director for Adams County.

The upgrades, including replacement of the county's 17 existing network switches, will allow programs and data to be centralized on servers located in the courthouse basement rather than on bulky computer towers, Scherm said.

County employees' work stations will basically be a monitor, a keyboard and a mouse, Scherm said. And the network's capacity will expand from 100 megabytes to more than 40 gigabytes.

"We're going from millions to billions in data capacity," Scherm said.

The new system will operate more securely and faster, saving time for more than 300 county employees and money previously lost in slow productivity because of lagging technology, Qually said. The county will also experience savings in paper as it works to digitize its files and records.

The IT department will be able to manage roughly 500 desktop stations from one server, which will expedite software installations, future upgrades and other repairs, Scherm said.

The infrastructure upgrades will put Adams County about five years ahead of current technology, Scherm estimated.

"With the new system, we'll be able to have one type of equipment and fix people's problems without running around the building," said Randy Phiel, Adams County commissioner chair.

The network upgrade will include at least six different software systems for different departmental applications, Scherm said.

And with the upgrades, the new network will have the capacity for private and possibly even public wireless Internet.

"We're hedging our bets here," Scherm said of the potential for public WiFi at the courthouse.

The website

Adams County officials recently accepted a statewide award for its website, which was touted as up to date and easy to navigate by the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania.

The site,, was named the best for 2014 among the state's 50 fourth- through eighth-class counties. It was launched last summer by the association for thousands less in startup and annual costs than if the county had hired a private company to design its new site.

And the cost is going down for municipalities to launch their own website through the county's.

Commissioners approved a new fee schedule last week, making it cheaper for county boroughs and townships to establish a viral presence.

It previously cost all municipalities $500 to launch a website with $500 in annual fees, county officials said.

Municipalities with a population of 2,000 or less can launch a website for $100 with a $60 annual fee. Municipalities with a population between 2,001 and 4,000 can launch for $300 with an $80 annual fee. Municipalities with 4,001 or more people can launch a website for $500 with $100 in annual fees.

Nineteen of the county's 34 municipalities have a functioning website, according to the county website's municipalities page.

"It's a great opportunity for these smaller municipalities," said Randy Phiel, Adams County commissioner chair.

©2014 The Evening Sun (Hanover, Pa.)