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Burke County looks to Liberty for insight into records center
Liberty County Records Retention Center Executive Director Sampie Smith speaks with Emma Williams, Barbara Miller, Elaine Sikes and Marsha Miller as they tour the center. - photo by Phgoto by Patty Leon
The Liberty County Records Retention Center was recently visited by a group of women from Burke County interested in obtaining information on how such a facility is operated and maintained.
Executive Director Sampie Smith gave the women a tour of the center and provided information about preparing reports and budgets, and possible venues for funding.
“I thought it was like a feather in our cap,” Smith said. “It is a reflection on our records board, the late Winston Walker and the great staff currently employed with us.”
Smith recently completed his certification as a records manager at a training session at St. Simons sponsored by UGA and the Georgia Records Association. He became the executive director of the center in June 2005.
Smith said he was pleased to learn the women had asked around and were told the Liberty County’s record retention center had a solid reputation among professionals in the industry.
Marsha Miller, Barbara Miller and Emma Williams of the Burke County Genealogical Society and Elaine Sikes, Burke County’s librarian, said they were visiting two sites in Georgia to learn how records retention centers operate.
“We are converting an old jail building from the 1930s,” Barbara Miller said. “It’s just like one great big vault and it is a beautiful brick building on the outside. It reminds you of those old buildings you would see out in Williamsburg. The Architects have told us that it will readily convert for a records and archive facility.”
Burke County was part of the originally colonized St. George Parrish. However, because different fires have destroyed records at the courthouse, officials have found it difficult to find archived public records.
Now, they are looking to private collections to replenish the archives.
During the tour, Smith explained the importance of maintaining room temperature and humidity to certain levels to preserve the papers and files.
The women learned how to organize a filing system within the vault and through the use of computerized spreadsheets - and handwritten files as a backup.
Rows and rows of school records, court records, county and city records were clearly marked and the women were told the state has specific regulations on how long certain records are to be held and how to properly destroy them.
Smith noted the documents are sent to Interstate Paper, where they are destroyed and recycled.
“It’s important to know the proper way to hold and destroy these records as they may contain information that could readily be used in identity theft,” Smith said. “As a records retention center, we serve agencies that need these records stored for a specified period of time,” he said.
The group also discussed funding options that may be used for the initial construction of the building and future expansions.
Smith noted the Liberty County center is nearly filled to capacity and he’s hoping Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax funds are an option the city and county will consider for expanding the building.
“You can have one of two types of SPLOST funds,” he said. “Either an educational SPLOST or the SPLOST funds that go into the coffers of the county.”
“There is a move afoot in the general assembly to expand that to maintenance and operation but for right now SPLOST is only for capital expenditures,” Smith said.
He planned to provide diagrams of the facility, showing the square footage and layout, to help the women in designing their new facility.
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