Skip to content Skip to left sidebar Skip to right sidebar Skip to footer

Public Records Commission nearing end of term

The Public Records Commission is at a watershed moment in its history, according to Archivist Ned Irwin.
“Four years ago, you were charged with creating an archive, and I want to thank you for your support and hard work,” he said during the Aug. 21 meeting.
The appointed term of members Sam Humphreys, Alpha Bridger, Gene Hurdt, Irwin, Ginger Jilton, William Kennedy, Thomas Seeley, Kathy Storey and John Kiener will end with that of the current Washington County Commission on Sunday, Aug. 31.
While the county office building was approved as the site of the archive, delays in moving the staff to the new location in the downtown courthouse have prevented renovations from beginning.
Humphreys, current chair, expressed fears of not seeing the project to completion. “I’m concerned that a lot of new commissioners coming in with an agenda will want to shut it down and get rid of everyone, and I don’t want to lose it,” he said.
Kennedy agreed the group would need to be vigilant to ensure that did not happen, and Irwin encouraged those who wish to continue serving to contact Mayor Dan Eldridge about their interest.
Hurdt said he was pleased the Friends of the Archive has been taken from an idea to an organization to one having nonprofit status. Irwin said this is the only case he knows of in which a support group was created before the archive was formally established.
Irwin presented the 2013-14 report from the Department of Records Management and Archives, which indicates almost 500 inquiries for information have been received from 30 states and one foreign country. “I think it gives you an idea that we will be attracting heritage tourism once open, and that’s positive,” he said.
The second year of archive operations has focused on building the infrastructure for the department by preparing for the renovation of a building for the county archive; providing records management services to county offices and departments, and continuing inventorying surveys for determining county records that should be housed in the archive in the future; and expanding public connections to promote research use and heritage tourism.
Irwin said the report also includes some concerns for the year ahead that will be felt sooner rather than later. “The county is nearing capacity for records storage, and new permanent records are being created every day,” he warned.
The Archive Annex on the third floor of the courthouse that was designated for overflow storage is almost full already, and Irwin said there is a need for a county records storage facility while awaiting the preparation of the archive. In addition, heating/cooling and lighting improvements are needed in the Archive Annex.