James S. Cooper Award

“The James S. Cooper Award was created in 1996 after “Jim” died of a sudden aneurysm in his 40’s. Jim personified our organization in his quick acceptance of friends and ideas and in his willingness to share information and methods. The spirit of the James S. Cooper Ambassador Award recognizes the individual and/or agency that provides service above and beyond their normal performance of duties with regard to interagency cooperation.”

All recipients have willingly fulfilled technical services to help other government organizations above and beyond their normal performance of duties. We are honored to recognize the following:

2016/2017

Christopher Niver – Director of Information Technology, City of Conover, NC

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Chris was nominated by the Town of Granite Falls for the James S. Cooper Ambassador Award.

The Town of Granite Falls is a small municipality (population 4,640) located in the foothills of Western North Carolina and does not have a full-time Information Technology expert on staff. They have staff that can oversee and monitor day-to-day technology functions but they don’t have staff members with extensive IT expertise to implement special projects. In the past year, the Town started two major IT projects that consisted of the selection of a website design and hosting firm and the selection of a firm to install and maintain a free public Wi-Fi network in their downtown area. For both projects, Chris willingly took time out of his busy schedule to assist them with design and vendor selection.

Chris unselfishly gave his time and technical expertise and reviewed all responses to the Town’s RFPs for these two projects and provided them with honest, intelligent feedback on each proposal. Chris impressed the town’s staff with how he could explain in laymen’s terms, the features, benefits and drawbacks for each vendor’s proposal which lead them to make informed decisions of how to proceed with each project. With his assistance, the Town’s staff progressed rapidly through a fact-finding stage into the implementation stage for both projects. Chris certainly went “above and beyond the call of duty” providing them with the needed technical expertise.

As written by the Jerry T. Church, Town Manager of Granite Falls, “When I read this description of Mr. Cooper, I immediately thought of our new friend Chris Niver. Chris epitomizes what the James S. Cooper Ambassador Award represents and would be a worthy recipient of this award.”

 

Bruce Walker & Greg Slagell, MIS Director & Database Administrator, Alamance County, NC

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Bruce and Greg were nominated by Joel Hartley, CIO Davidson County, NC for the James S. Cooper Ambassador Award.

Davidson County I.T. staff was faced with the need to develop an application needed to assist DSS in the management of Medicare transports and billing data. A short time previously, Bruce and Greg had developed an application that solved these same needs within Alamance County. With approval from their county, they graciously shared and provided the application and start-up assistance to Davidson County. Equipped with this application, the Davidson County I.T. staff were able to update the application for their DSS Transportation staff’s use within a few short weeks. Without this shared application and assistance, Davidson County would have encountered many months laboring through development and testing.

As written by Joel Hartley, “This exhibits the true meaning of what NCLGISA is all about in the sharing of resources in local government.  Our users are loving the new application and are very grateful to Alamance County.”

 

2015

Keith Archambault, Town of Knightdale

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“Keith helped out the Town of Wendell by investigating a server failure at the town about 5 years ago.  He took the time to evaluate the situation, propose the purchase of a new server and assisted working with the town for the next few months, getting it installed with a consultant that he trusted.  He also hired a part time person for Wendell and trained that person and assisted when needed.  The two towns had an agreement and Keith did a great job in facilitating this operation and they hired me(second person).  His involvement continued for another year until Wendell hired me part time in 2011, full time in 2012.  Keith was always willing to answer my questions and assist when asked well after the agreement between the towns was over.  He is a true public servant and shared that with a neighbor town.   The Town of Wendell would like to thank him for his help and expertise.”

Nominated by: Tamah Hughes, IT Director, Town of Wendell

 

Chris Stone and Chris Cowan at Wayne County

Earlier this year, they spent hours of their time sharing an innovative solution to a virtual desktop hardware issue we were having: getting signature pads to work with Compass/Laserfiche in a Citrix server hosted environment.  The solution was obviously the result of hours of development and testing on their end, and they delivered it to us practically turn-key.  Chris followed through with a lot of proactive check-ins to make sure things were going well and to see if we had any questions.

This kind of forthright contribution to the success of other agencies lifts the caliber and value of local government as a whole.  Chris and company embody the spirit of collective collaboration of NCLGISA and the James S. Cooper Award.  Submitting this at this the last minute, I don’t have time to go into greater detail, but I am happy to follow up with additional details.

Nominated by: Michael C. Wilcox, MSMIT, CGCIO, Orange County IT Operations Manager

 

Runner Up – Kerry Goode (City of Durham) & Greg Marrow (Durham County)

This County/City Partnership was nominated as a great example of two agencies going above and beyond to provide a better solution together.

These two gentlemen and their teams have displayed a great spirit of partnership and collaboration to improve the Open Data Initiative for the residents and employees of the City and County of Durham.  When the idea of an Open Data initiative started, Kerry and Greg instantly saw the value in a City/County partnership.  This partnership has grown to include joint funding, project management, consulting, and technology.  Through this willingness to work together, new ideas and opportunities for collaboration continue to be identified and can more easily be acted upon to the mutual benefit of both organizations.

Nominated by: Anthony Pergolotti, PMP, Senior Project Manager, PMO

 

2014

Christopher Niver – Director of Information Technology, City of Conover, NC

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The spirit of the James S. Cooper Ambassador Award recognizes the individual or agency that provides service above and beyond their normal performance of duties with regard to interagency cooperation. James S. Cooper personified our organization in his quick acceptance of friends and ideas, and in his willingness to share information and methods. For these reasons, it is without hesitation that I nominate Chris Niver for this award.

Most of us have reaped the benefits of Chris’s innumerable selfless acts. As the NCLGISA webmaster for the past year, Chris has spent countless hours ensuring that the website is an effective, well-organized and informative site. As a result of Chris’s tireless efforts, we were all able to conduct some type of business, with ease, in order to make plans to attend the NCLGISA Symposium. While it may seem as though he is merely a heavily involved volunteer, he is more than that. Chris puts his heart into his duties.

Many times, as IT professionals, we want to just simply ensure that a process or procedure works. Chris has a sincere desire to ensure that the website is not only functional, but it actually meets the needs of the NCLGISA members. He is constantly working with other NCLIGSA committees to figure out ways to improve our experience. Chris is also extremely active on the listserv. He posts his own inquiries, but also actively replies to the posts of others. His assistance with other agencies is instrumental in the success of these agencies.

Chris also data-mines the listserv to find new ways to improve the website’s content. For example, he created new categories in the document library based on the video surveillance policies conversation thread. One day, while updating web content, Chris uploaded job postings from the listserv to the website without the agency having to request it simply because he wanted to increase their exposure and applicant rate, which in turn will benefit the agency and the surrounding communities.

I would be remiss if I did not mention the fact that Chris performs all of these “extra duties” while maintaining his one-man shop at the City of Conover. Chris’s preciseness and attention to detail ensures that none of his responsibilities suffer while he is focusing on other projects. Chris managed to gain recognition for his IT efforts this past spring when he won the GIGa Award for his free WiFi project to connect citizens in downtown Conover. He also launched and won a successful social media campaign to win the Spiceworks March Madness contest for his Connect2Conover project.

The James S. Cooper Ambassador Award seeks to “recognize not only outstanding performance within the NCLGISA membership, but also recognizes acts of solidarity through the sharing of knowledge and good will to those outside of their organization units.” All of this said, I cannot think of anyone who is more deserving than Chris Niver, Director of IT for the City of Conover.

 

Frank Merricks and Greg Paravis – Alamance County MIS Department

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These two gentlemen embody the ideal of this award. Because of their willingness to work with state and local partners to explore the technological options available to improve services to domestic violence victims, Alamance County is one a few sites in the nation that has a nationally recognized Electronic Protective Order System (EPOS). Through his leadership, Frank Merricks made it possible for Greg Paravis to devote many hours to the development of this technology and Greg made personal sacrifices of time in order to make it happen. Both of these men are quick to serve our community, oftentimes in ways that may fall outside of their typical roles.

The problem was threefold. First, women and children who have been victims of domestic violence were forced to travel to numerous locations to secure a protective order. Secondly, there were huge safety concerns for the victim and for law enforcement. Having a large number of law enforcement agencies meant delays in service and enforcement of protective orders. Lastly, victims were unable to take full advantage of available services because of the time commitment needed to complete the protective order process. In many cases, victims had to forego services in order to make it to the county seat to get their order. Discussion about simplifying the protective order process began in 2004, with the creation of the Family Justice Center as a one-stop service provider for victims of domestic violence. On June 24, 2013, Alamance County became the first in the state to implement an electronic protective order system. Since then, 450 protective orders have been applied for electronically. The system is the result of years of work by numerous offices at the state and local level.

The Electronic Protective Order System utilizes multiple components of technology including internet access, VPNs, and required substantial additional cabling. Software was necessary for the webcams and video transmission – software both off-the-shelf and the software developed jointly with Alamance County MIS, the NC Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) and a vendor selected by AOC to design and build the software platform used for the express purpose of the Electronic Protective Order System.  Both LAN & WAN services are used, as well as databases built by the AOC system vendor with all the proper and necessary security to satisfy both AOC and the local MIS department.  The system also utilizes normal hardware such as monitors, desktops, notebooks, webcams, microphones, and signature pads – using the secure switches and firewalls as needed.  Of special note, Alamance County, with all of the partners, have created a system that any of the remaining 99 counties in NC can be part of.

Through the EPOS, victims access the protective order through the Family Justice Center. The testimony of the victim and subsequent order is transmitted via a web-based, online system to the Clerk of Court’s office where the documents are processed and forwarded electronically to the District Court Judge. The victim is heard via a webcam. If the order is granted, the judge accepts the order which automatically transmits to the Family Justice Center and printed for the victim, as well as to the Sheriff’s Department for service. The automation not only serves the interest of the victims and law enforcement, but the entire judicial system and the community -at-large. The development and implementation required the efforts of numerous partners. There was no model for the Electronic Protective Order System so the system had to be built “from the ground up.” Collectively, the development team devoted an estimated 15,000 hours to the project from 2011 through 2013 – most over and beyond their regular job duties.

The positive impact to victim safety has been tremendous:

  1. The Electronic Protective Order System improved victim safety and willingness to complete the protective order process. In six short months, only 6% of the victims fail to follow through with the protective order process, compared with 12% before the implementation of the EPOS.
  2. Automatic service to the Sheriff’s Office means that every deputy on patrol has a copy of the protective order on their laptops. They can print and serve it on a defendant immediately, leaving a computer log of exactly when it was served.
  3. EPOS has decreased the amount of collective time required by the victim, Sheriff’s Office and judicial personnel, to complete the protective order process. In most cases the collective time for processing has been cut in half – from twelve to about three to five hours.
  4. EPOS has allowed the Family Justice Center to achieve the mission of providing one-stop domestic violence services to victims. Because victims do not have to leave the Family Justice Center they can devote more time and attention to the services available. Referrals from the Family Justice Center to counseling and assistance services have doubled since June. Referrals to Legal Aid have tripled, which means that clients are receiving one-stop domestic violence services per the intended mission of the Family Justice Center.

The Electronic Order System (EPOS) is nationally recognized and exemplifies what can be achieved when everyone works beyond the traditional boundaries to accomplish a shared vision. The Alamance County team who worked with Frank Merricks and Greg Paravis on this project will be forever grateful for their devotion and effort to make this a success and feel they are most deserving of the NCLGISA James S. Cooper award.