CROWN POINT | Professionals seeking to keep their lucrative business connections asked Lake County officials Tuesday to recall the good times they've had together.
Cenifax Network Solutions, the Schererville-based firm that has controlled almost every computer in Lake County government since 1993, is asking Lake County commissioners to renew its $2.6 million annual contract.
Commissioners have renewed the Cenifax contract over the years with little debate but decided this year to put it and other long-term vendor contracts up for competitive bidding for 2014.
Mark Pearman, Cenifax executive director, said his company earns its money managing the county's website, which receives 1.5 million visits a month, and supporting 44 separate computer sites used by almost every county government office.
Pearman said his firm has managed the conversion of digital record keeping for local courts, county police, the prosecutor, public defenders, tax collections and distributions, elections and county government budgeting and finances.
The man who would like to take over that business is no stranger to county government, either.
Don Guernsey, owner of Valparaiso-based Onyx Electronics, has provided computer service for the county recorder's office since 1997. Guernsey's company also has been running the commissioners' delinquent tax sale for several years.
Guernsey said his company has performed well for the county over the years and promises in the future a more flexible information technology system in which employees in one county office could be cross-trained to access and manage information in another office if needed.
Commissioners also reviewed the qualifications of three contractors that provide health care services for county jail inmates: Merrillville physician Dr. William Forgey, who has been the jail's medical director since January 2012; Terry Harman, the jail's mental health director since June 2011; and Faith Ornelas, the jail's psychiatric nurse practitioner since November 2012.
The U.S. Department of Justice previously documented 99 deficiencies in the lockup, and Lake County officials agreed in 2010 with federal officials to eliminate substandard health care for about 14,000 jail prisoners every year.
John Bushemi, an attorney for Lake County Sheriff John Buncich, said the sheriff will ask commissioners next month to keep this medical team in place because it has stabilized jail health care.
Forgey employs 41 people as part of his Correctional Health Indiana Inc. staff, which holds a $3.4 million contract for work in the jail. Harman is receiving $96,328, and Ornelas $120,000, according to county records.