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Plan for county archive taking shape

Plans for a Washington County Archive must be approved by the County-Owned Property and Budget committees before they can be taken to the Commission for a vote, Mayor Dan Eldridge advised members of the Public Records Committee during their March 3 meeting.
Committee member John Kiener made the following three motions that were approved by the Public Records Committee:
• Recommend the establishment of a Washington County Archive;
• Recommend a $5 filing fee for county documents, excluding vehicle renewal tags, in County, Circuit, Sessions, Chancery and Criminal courts;
• Recommend space in the Washington County Office Building, now being used by the mayor’s office, be designated for the archive, contingent on the approval of the mayor’s office relocating to the second floor of the courthouse, with the former jail as an annex.
Kiener proposed asking County Attorney John Rambo to draft three resolutions, in consultation with the mayor, which would reflect the same language. A called meeting of the Public Records Committee will be held to review the resolutions and public notice.
The resolutions will be taken before the County-Owned Property and Budget committees at their April meetings.
If approved, the $5 filing fee will return an estimated $292,145 to the archive each year.
Eldridge said the filing fee is the only option not requiring a significant capital outlay on the part of the county.
“We will be keeping fees on the documents we actually have to retain as permanent records,” he said.
Ned Irwin provided a budget with projected first-year costs for establishing the archive at $161,700.
The total includes equipment and furnishings, supplies, utilities and personnel.
Costs for facility preparation are unknown at this time.
Annual operating costs for the archive, including personnel, supplies and utilities, are estimated at $111,700.
“If there is any surplus of funds, they could go toward renovation,” Irwin said.
Dr. William Kennedy brought the blueprints of the Washington County Office Building to the meeting.
“These will be very valuable, I feel, in helping us plan the use of this facility,” he said.
Kennedy is also checking with the original architects about any additional drawings that may be available, and any details on the structural strength of the building.
Kiener said the first step toward prioritization of the archive records is to determine the number of feet of current records, and which of them need to be kept.
The state may be able to send a team to Jonesborough to provide assistance, he added.
Chairman Sam Humphreys said education will be needed to get the community onboard with the archive.
“We have to push the ‘We are the birthplace of Tennessee’ message to generate interest,” he said.
Eldridge said he recently received an e-mail from an individual in Indiana who was researching his family in Washington County.
“It turns out it was a relative who told me information about my family I didn’t know, which was that my great-great-great-great grandfather lived in Washington County in 1794,” Eldridge said.