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MITCHELL COUNTY

Paul Boerjan becomes county IT director

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In Paul Boerjan’s line of work, the subject matter evolves at Internet speed, which is much faster than in the days of dial up.

In 25 years, he has seen computer technology rapidly expand. Therefore, even a seasoned veteran like Boerjan must continue to learn.

Paul Boerjan

Paul Boerjan, the new director of the Mitchell County IT department.

On Sept. 15, he assumed his next role as the Information Technology Director for Mitchell County.

Boerjan is a graduate of St. Ansgar High School. He attended St. Cloud State University in Minnesota, where he studied Business Computer Information Systems. It was the 1990s, when the nascent Internet was still in its youth via dialup, which Boerjan describes as a nightmare.

“The Macs I was on were all in a shared environment,” he said of the Internet’s growth at that time. “You could see the potential there. It was interesting getting into databases once you were online. You could really just go in and search for things. It was amazing.

“But it was tough to navigate. You had to look for groups to belong to and get in that way.”

Search engines as we know them were a few years down the road.

For a decade, Boerjan worked in the Twin Cities for IBM. He had an hour commute each way on public transportation.

As opposed to his own business where he was a jack of all trades, IBM required specialization.

“You’re pretty narrow in your focus in what you’re doing,” he said. “And I went to a lot of meetings.”

It was the mid-1990s, and Boerjan was in a high security building where IBM housed their minicomputers and mainframe equipment. He was a contractor for American Express, one of thousands of employees, and he supported financial planners across the United States.

“We were high security because of that,” he said. “It was a data center. You wouldn’t know it was that type of building, but when you walk through the door, there are two security officers sitting there and cameras everywhere.”

In 2000, he left the big city to return to small town living, returning to St. Ansgar with his wife, Donna, and their family. He went from one of the world’s largest company to owning his own business, PB Computers.

He was also technology coordinator at his alma mater, with a variety of duties including taking photographs at sporting events for the high school yearbook.

“I was a hired gun,” Boerjan said.

In his business, he interacted with all ages. Some of his clientele were pre-personal computer.

“They’re all so happy to see you because you’re there to help,” he said. “You run through the whole gambit of skills.”

Boerjan says he is just as comfortable in the light pollution of a city as in a small town, but he missed seeing the stars and hearing the crickets at night in Mitchell County.

When COVID-19 hit, it slowed his business down, and when he saw the ad for IT director in the newspaper, he thought he could serve his county.

“My goal is to learn this system as well as I can,” Boerjan said of his new job. “They’ll be doing changes in the upcoming years, and I’ll be part of that. There’s stuff I don’t know, and I look forward to learning and helping others.”

He likes working with computer technology because it is always changing. He has seen it evolve from Apple II’s to the present day.

For Boerjan, it is a puzzle.

“I like to look at something and maybe not understand it, but eventually you read enough about it, you practice it enough, you can learn it and feel good about that.”

Outgoing IT director Casey Ketelsen sat with him for a week to help Boerjan acclimate. Boerjan is a member of an Iowa counties group chat, which will serve as a guide. He was also a part of the active shooter training the previous week, preparing for contingencies.

“I’m a department of one,” Boerjan added.

Jason W. Selby is the community editor for the Mitchell Country Press News. He can be reached at 515-971-6217, or by email at jason.selby@globegazette.com.

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