Permanent place sought for Unicoi County records

Brad Hicks • Apr 24, 2013 at 9:15 AM

ERWIN — Unicoi County’s nomadic records will likely be on the move again soon, and the Unicoi County Records Commission intends to study potential permanent destinations for stacked pallets of papers that must be maintained.

At a Records Commission meeting Tuesday afternoon, Unicoi County Register of Deeds and Records Commission Chair Debbie Tittle asked commission members to ascertain information on several possible locations that could be used to store the county’s records that must be kept under state law.

Tittle said possible locations include the Ace Hardware store along Gay Street, which the commission could rent for $1,500 a month. Anything paid for the rent could be used toward the purchase of the property should the county move in that direction, Tittle said. Another possible destination is property along Gay Street that Tittle said could be rented for $800 a month or purchased for $130,000. A third potential location is along Union Street, which would cost $600 per month to rent or $175,000 to purchase.

Tittle said the Records Commission would need at least 2,000 square feet of space for storage.

After commission members look a little more into these locations, they will return with a recommendation. Following approval, the recommendation will be sent on to the county’s Building and Grounds Committee. If approved by this committee, the recommendation would then be sent on to the Unicoi County Commission for its consideration.

Since last year, the records have been stored at the Unicoi County Jail annex, the second time the records have called the facility home. But on April 8, Sheriff Mike Hensley sent a letter to the Records Commission stating the records would need to moved from the storage area at the annex by May 1.

County Mayor Greg Lynch said the Sheriff’s Department is wanting to use the space at the Jail Annex where the records are stored as space for inmate educational opportunities. Lynch said Hensley will likely work with the commission to extend the move date, and that the sheriff’s department does not need the entire area where the records are stored. Because of this, he said the commission could look to “condense” the records a little more and the commission could look to build a wall around the records at a minimal cost until they can be relocated.

Thanks in part to a previously enacted archiving fee, the Records Commission has around $60,000 in its reserve. Tittle said the fee generates around $3,000 a month.

“Now that we’re generating money and we have an avenue of revenue, I think that we need to get serious about looking at where we’re going to land,” she said.

“The next time we move these records, I’d like for them to be where they’re going to be for the rest of the time,” Lynch said.

The Records Commission is set to meet again on May 23.

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