County honors outgoing IT director

Published 10:56 am Monday, January 14, 2019

By NEAL WAGNER / Managing Editor

COLUMBIANA – After three decades of service in a largely behind-the-scenes role in the Shelby County Information Technology Department, outgoing IT Director Winston Estes enjoyed some time in the spotlight during a Jan. 14 Shelby County Commission Meeting.

During the meeting, County Manager Alex Dudchock and Commission members honored Estes for his service to the county in advance of his retirement from the position.

Dudchock said Estes has played a major role in developing and implementing technology systems in nearly every county department over the years.

“During his tenure, not only did he keep cool, but he also had to personally and professionally re-tool his knowledge base. We’re going to miss him,” Dudchock said. “Always confident. Everyone around him would have anxiety, but he always kept his cool. The strongest professional characteristic that we all could learn from: (He’s) a great listener.”

After coming to the county as a programmer analyst in the late 1980s from the Jefferson County School System, Estes worked his way up to senior systems analyst, then IT Services supervisor and then IT director.

Loren Russell, who has been with the IT Department for 10 years, is being promoted to replace Estes.

Estes has played a role in implementing everything from election software to the technology used in Shelby County Sheriff’s Office patrol cars.

“During the early days, when I came here as chief deputy, we worked hand in hand with the development of the data terminals in the cars, and you were invaluable at the time,” Shelby County Sheriff John Samaniego told Estes, noting the software allowed officers to run tag numbers before even approaching a vehicle during traffic stops. “It went very positively, and I thank you so much.”

Estes said he has had plenty of support during his tenure.

“I just want to say thanks to Alex. He’s always been so supportive and so great to work with. Of course, (Shelby County Chief Operating Officer) Phil (Burns) has always been great to work with. He’s helped our department do some things I never thought we’d be able to achieve,” Estes said. “The County Commission, y’all’s support has allowed us to have the best IT department in the state, and I don’t just say that. If you ask anyone, they’ll tell you.”