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County Records Will Be Preserved Digitally

By David Howell

WATER VALLEY – Over three decades of records in the county’s tax offices, chancery clerk offices and circuit clerk offices will be digitally preserved after supervisors authorized a contract with an Alabama firm Monday.
    The work will take almost a year and will cost $59,500, money that will be appropriated from the county’s reappraisal escrow account over a two-year period.
    The work will be done by Spatial Net, Inc., a Huntsville-based GIS consulting firm specializing in Geographic Information Systems for cities, counties, and their associated utilities. In 2010, the company created aerial tax maps for Yalobusha County.
    The topic first surfaced back in August during budgeting time, when Chancery Clerk Amy McMinn, Circuit Clerk Daryl Burney and Tax Assessor/Collector Linda Shuffield all voiced support for the project.  
    McMinn explained that the company, Spatial Net, will scan all of the county deeds in 263 Deed of Trust Books dating back to 1976 in the Chancery Clerk offices in both courthouses.
    The company will also scan approximately 6,700 two-sided property appraisal cards in the tax assessor’s offices in the county, also dating back to 1976. This will link to an earlier microfilm backup that preserved records up to 1976.
    When the project is completed the property deeds and appraisal cards will be viewable online.
    In the circuit clerk’s offices, Spatial Net will provide the equipment and training to copy the marriage licenses dating back to 1834. Burney said volunteers, both from the Yalobusha Historical Society and others, will be trained to actually photo and upload the licenses.
    When completed, the digital images can be viewed in the circuit clerk’s offices without damaging the fragile, historic marriage records.
    A final component in the contract with Spatial Net will be creating color-coded, digital maps to break down voter districts anywhere in the county. The digital map will show the break down based on an address including school board districts, supervisor lines, city ward lines along with state and federal districts.
    The new map will be faster and less cumbersome, according to Burney.
    “Currently the county maintains an address library, a bulky system that relies on checking numerous maps to determine the voter’s precinct or district information,” Burney explained.
    “I can’t think of anything that is needed any more,” Board President Tommy Vaughn said during Monday’s meeting about the entire package.
    During the August budget meeting, McMinn also noted that some county records are preserved on microfilm up to 1976. One copy of the backup is stored in the vault in the Coffeeville Courthouse and a second copy is stored in a county location away from the courthouses.

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