Singing their praises:

After over 20 years, Walker County Probate Court “can’t imagine life” without Syscon

Probate Judge Rick Allison isn’t sure how Syscon develops recording or court system software, or how members of that firm are always available whenever his court needs them. But this Walker County official is pretty sure he knows why Syscon has become the go-to firm for so many courts.

“I’ve always enjoyed working with Bob, who owns Syscon,” says Allison of Robert Wilson, the company’s president. “I think he has the same sort of philosophy I’ve always had – that to be successful, you should surround yourself with good people. Syscon has good employees. They’re just great to work with.”

Since he didn’t assume his Walker County judicial responsibilities until 1995, Allison can’t remember probate life before Syscon. Chief Clerk Rita Taft does remember the 1992 arrival of the office’s first computers and Syscon’s PROMIS software. The county was one of the firm’s first customers, she says.

“The transition wasn’t difficult,” Taft says. “They came in and put in the computers and showed us how to work them. Before Syscon, members of the public would bring in documents, and we’d clock them and index them and then make copies. It was very labor intensive. Those copies were put on microfilm, and there was always the danger that film would be destroyed.”

Walker County residents were already mindful of document preservation, since the courthouse had been through two fires, destroying marriage records, deeds and other vital archives. Those early Syscon-equipped computers provided a resource for residents to not only process new documents, but to also adopt Syscon’s Preservation services.

“I can’t imagine life without Syscon,” says Allison of the firm’s document security options. “I can remember when people used to bring in their documents and just leave them. It might be days later when they got them mailed back. Now we can scan those records and have them in the system before the customer ever leaves. And with the disaster recovery element, Syscon actually stores all our documents off-site, and we can do a backup here and carry that off-site every Friday.”

Historical deeds, marriage licenses, mortgages and other records are also scanned into the system, providing a treasure trove of easily-accessed public records. Some Walker County documents date back to 1887, drawing varied researchers — from title searchers to family genealogists – who praise the program’s simplicity.

“We have a lot of people go through Syscon and go online to look up things,” says Taft. “They don’t have to go through the court, which makes it easier on everyone. All of our maps are on the computer, including the plat maps. We were the first to do that.”

By 1996, the court had added Syscon’s judicial services, easing the recording of wills and deeds. The court continues to adapt to new technology and techniques with Syscon’s help, Taft says, especially as the State of Alabama changes its requirements.

“Syscon’s systems have evolved and improved over the years. As the State makes changes, Syscon gets those made for us.”

Walker County probate is not yet using Syscon’s eFiling program, though the judge thinks that adoption could be on the horizon. “I’m sure that’s going to be the next step, though I don’t know that we’re really there yet.” Whatever changes may come, both officials say they rest easier, knowing Syscon staffers will be available to assist.

“I love Syscon,” says Taft. “I sing their praises all the time.”

Allison, who considers himself a stickler for spending tax dollars as if each dime was his own, says the Syscon investment has produced impressive county-wide dividends. “I’m sure there are other companies, and they may have new bells and whistles. But I can tell you that with Syscon, the system is sound and it works. They look at new things to meet our needs. I just think that Syscon is a great company. And I’m not just saying that. I’m loyal to what works, and this works. I hate to think about what life would be like without Syscon.”

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