From Charles A. Smith, John F. Stender, D. Luke Furbee, Earl P. Kendle, Jr., Candy L. Warner, Teresa R. Hamilton, Jackson L. Hayes, Eric H. Vincent
We, the elected officers of Tyler County, wish to unanimously respond to the letter published on April 18, 2012, authored by Ms. Mellor. We appreciate that Ms. Mellor acknowledges it has not been a simple task for Clerk Hamilton to accommodate the volume of traffic seeking access to the records vault. We believe Ms. Mellor essentially makes our position plain with that concession. There have been days in the recent past when more than 70 people have desired to gain access to a records vault which can accommodate only 20 people at a time. Obviously, there is no perfect method for suiting the desires of everyone who wishes to use the county records.
Despite this, we believe we have endeavored to be highly accommodating to the land research firms and production companies doing business in our county. From purchasing tables and chairs, to installing electrical service to the main hall for the use of their equipment at no cost to them, we spared them some burden for a time from seeking office space to be used at their own expense. We have, in fact, implemented extended hours on the first Thursday of the month. Mrs. Hamilton has in fact listened to their reasonable suggestions and some have, in fact, been implemented. Contrary to Ms. Mellor’s suggestion that we are purposely frustrating economic progress in the community, we have graciously undertaken to welcome, accommodate, and provide reasonable access to these firms. This we have done to some detriment to our own ability to use these records to discharge purely public business during normal business hours. This we have done despite the fact that the only legal duty we owe to these firms is that the doors be open – leaving access to be on a first-come, first-serve basis. Each of us has gladly spent and will continue to gladly spend evenings, holidays, and weekends to access these records to discharge the duties of our offices without any extra compensation.
However, we believe the public should bear in mind that these firms are private enterprises, and do in fact compete with each other for business. We are put in the position of umpiring a demand far in excess of supply among competing private concerns. It should be obvious that not all seeking access genuinely seek a fair playing field. It is our responsibility to maintain order in the facility and also provide reasonable access to banks, attorneys, other business concerns, and the private citizen simply attempting to look up his or her family history, an estate record, the results of an election, or otherwise and does not desire to make one dollar from his or her visit.
In conclusion, we would invite any interested citizen to come to the courthouse and observe the congestion here, and inspect the records of revenue opposed to costs incurred as a consequence of this increased activity. While we have been most accommodating, we will not permit monopolization of the county records or the courthouse by private, for-profit firms, nor will we tolerate the abuse of them or of county officers and workers. We doubt the voters of Tyler County will view the present contributions by these firms as sufficient justification for passing an excess tax levy to build a new courthouse more suitable to their demands.
Charles A. Smith
John F. StenderEric H. Vincent
D. Luke Furbee
Earl P. Kendle, Jr.
Candy L. Warner
Teresea R. Hamilton
Jackson L. Hayes