County auditor seeking new storage for old records

By Dean Wright -

GALLIPOLIS — With the move of the Gallia County Historical Society, Gallia County Auditor Larry Betz approached Gallia County Commissioners Thursday at their weekly meeting in hopes of seeking new storage locations for records, some of which are reportedly near a century old.

Gallia County Commissioner Harold Montgomery asked if the documents needed to be in a climate controlled area and if it might be possible to have the documents digitized or microfilmed.

“You probably could but you’re talking money and an unknown expense,” said Betz.

“Space is money too,” said Montgomery,” if you’re going to have to have climate control.”

Betz said he was unsure as yet as to whether the records would need climate control.

“Many of them are books, old books,” said Betz. “Some are paid duplicates. Some of it is tax records. Journals … I’m at a loss. When they (the Gallia Historical Society) moved down the street, the people there told me that ‘We are taking everything we’re going to take.’ Well they found all those books down in the basement and they fill wooden shelves.”

Montgomery asked how the society had custody of the books and Betz replied there was a written agreement with the society from several years ago.

“In the agreement, they were to keep and maintain those records,” said Betz during the meeting.

Betz asked if the commissioners had any other storage available and the commissioners replied they were unaware of what their options might be at this time. Betz suggested that all parties involved in potential storage solutions should be contacted to discuss what could be discovered.

“We need to research what exactly has to be stored and how it has to be stored,” said Montgomery. “I can’t believe hundred-year-old records, unless they were minutes of meetings or something like that, I just can’t believe some of that has to be held.”

Betz said he believed it was a combination of the historical society and the Ohio Revised Code that was responsible for deciding the way the records in question may be kept as well as the State Auditor’s Office.

“We need some definite guidance,” said Montgomery.

Commissioner David Smith said they would ask the Gallia Prosecutor’s Office for direction as to whether the records could be destroyed or kept.

The Gallia County Historical Society has traditionally sat at 412 Second Avenue but was in the process of moving early this year.

Historical Society Volunteer Mary-Lee Marchi previously said that a new location was purchased on Second Avenue across from City Park. Marchi said utilities will be significantly cheaper at the new location. The society reportedly finished moving by the end of February and is anticipated to be open this spring. Marchi had said the society previously was handing a little under 10 electric bills in its previous location as the building was built to hold several businesses. With few other rooms of the building being made use of by other organizations, the costs of heating and maintenance fell to the society.

“The bills were just outrageous,” said Marchi. “We purchased that building in 2000. We’ll take as much (inventory) as we can with us.”

Marchi said the new establishment would utilize a smaller space by rotating historical displays and exhibits. Individuals who donated artifacts and historical items to the society may be given the opportunity to reacquire items on lend to the society.

Dean Wright can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2103.

By Dean Wright