The complete digitization of courthouse records is one step closer following Tuesday's Tyler County Commission meeting, where commissioners opened bids and approved Affiliated Computer Services (ACS), a branch of Xerox, to complete the job.
ACS representative Dave Weaver presented the commissioners and county clerk with a breakdown of costs per record type for a total of $328,883.98. That amount will be paid for using funds from a donation by the West Virginia Oil and Gas Association.
Commission President John Stender said that he would draft an agreement letter for ACS following the meeting. The digitization of record books will recognize the goal of the commission and clerk's office to both streamline abstractor activity and preserve Tyler County history.
The commission also approved the update of the clerk's probate system, which is 13 years old according to County Clerk Teresea Hamilton.
"The new software is much easier," she said. "It will be installed on the server and be on all of the work stations. CSSI (Computer Support Services Inc.) is offering it to us at $8,247, including installation, training, travel expenses, at a $2,525 savings because we had the old system to begin with."
She said there may also be a reduction in that cost because employees in the clerk's office are familiar with the original system and it will not take as many hours to train them.
Commissioner Charles "Pork" Smith expressed that these updates should have the courthouse systems at "warp speed" by the beginning of 2014.
Because four employees in the Office of the County Clerk will be attending an election training seminar in Charleston on Sept. 24, the commission meeting scheduled for that day was rescheduled to Sept. 19 at 9 a.m.
They approved the renewal of an accident insurance plan under ACE USA Accident and Health for a cost of $1,700.40 a year. That coverage is maintained in the event that emergency volunteers are injured while aiding the county.
Under an agenda item labeled 911, Josh Fulks suggested that they discuss the matter in executive session, which the commission voted to enter. Upon resuming the normal meeting, no action was taken.
One in-house budget revision was made for the county clerk's office.
Budget revisions were also made for the Sheriff's Office and Office of Emergency Management.
Carry-overs for departments were presented by Commission Vice President Eric Vincent: $246,439 remained in the General County Fund, and the Coal Severance Fund had $2,265 left.
Vincent said that he, Judge Hicks, and Circuit Clerk Candy Warner are planning a visit to the extension office to see if it can serve as a future location for the family court.
Under public comment, resident Chris Hoke questioned the effects of moving family court to the current extension office, which may then shift the extension office to the 4-H Campgrounds.
"I've stopped in the office," she said. "I've attended meetings. The office in town is more accessible. For me to go to the 4-H is a little bit out of the way."
Vincent explained that they are still looking at other possibilities.
"We're investigating it because of other factors here at the courthouse. The family law master has to stay here, and that (the current extension office) is the nearest piece of property we have, and it's most accessible. Once we look at it, it may not be what they want.
"The other alternative is tearing up our courtroom upstairs, which would bring the ire of just about every citizen in Tyler County. We are strapped with space."
He discussed the possibility of a levy for the purpose of building a new courthouse, but he doubted that the people of Tyler County would want a new tax. Bonds were another option he listed, although the county would have to pay interest on them.
"There are all kinds of things we could do," he said. "We're just trying to be judicious with the money we have and do the best we can."
"Everything is up in the air," said Stender of the possible office changes.
They approved the appointment of Middlebourne Mayor Charles Delauder to the Tyler County Planning Commission and Development Authority for a one-year term, from Jan. 1, 2014, to Dec. 30, 2014.
Stender discussed the potential of setting up a campsite at the Tyler County 4-H Campgrounds. According to him, it could serve as a source of revenue for the county. He also mentioned the Labor Day Parade, which will take place in Paden City on Monday at 1 p.m. He relayed positive feedback from the Blue Ribbon Highway meeting he attended in Elkins, W.Va.
Sheriff "Bob" Kendle reported that a lightning strike destroyed the air conditioner in the Sheriff's Office. He stated that a replacement would cost $4,200.
The commission moved to pay for it until insurance reimburses the cost. The sheriff also reported that they should receive the newly purchased cruiser within the next six weeks.
Other approved items were: minutes of the Aug. 13 meeting, the assessor's exonerations, the paying of bills and the clerk's fiduciary report.