Fiscal court receives $52K grant to preserve local records

Published 10:50 am Friday, January 11, 2019

STANFORD — The Lincoln County Fiscal Court’s concerns over the many historic paper documents housed in the Lincoln County Courthouse have been eased slightly, with the local fiscal court one of 15 statewide agencies selected to receive grants for records preservation amounting to more than $500,000.

The Department for Libraries and Archives (KDLA) within the Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet made the announcement of recipients of the Local Records Grant Program funds to preserve and manage local government records on Jan. 4. The 15 grants totaled $561,593 for fiscal year 2019.

The Local Records Program helps to preserve, protect and make available records with continuing archival value and assist local agencies with records management through direct services, training and grant support.

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Lincoln County received the third largest grant amount awarded – $52,688.

“It’s needed,” Lincoln County Judge Executive Jim W. Adams Jr. said. “It’s all about the future. We need to microfilm our records for the future.”

The Lincoln County Courthouse, constructed in 1909 at the site of the original, is home to the oldest courthouse records in the state.

While many of the paper documents, which date back to 1781, have been preserved through the Kentucky Department of Library and Archives, many have simply been stored in the courthouse vaults.

Any further plans for preservation of those records hit a roadblock last year after budget cuts in Frankfort resulted in the Department of Library and Archives rescinding a grant to the county for records preservation in the amount of $38,726. Originally, the fiscal court opted not to pay back the money then, after rethinking the issue, decided to return the money which would allow them to apply for more grant money.

In the Sept. 11, 2018, meeting of the fiscal court, County Attorney Daryl Day informed the court that by returning the original $38K in grant money the county could not only get back in line for more grant money, but move to the top of that line.

“Lincoln County’s on the top of the list because there’s very few counties that have records that go back to 1861 and we do,” he said. “Our records are so old and that’s what they judge on.”

And just a few months later, the county has been awarded the $52,688 grant.

“This is another chance,” Adams said. “We’ve got some historic documents down there now, but if there were a fire or anything like that they would be lost forever. Microfilming and preserving these documents is for historical purposes.”

But 1861 is not the oldest record in the Lincoln County Courthouse vaults. Day says the records go much further back.

“We actually have the county court order book 1783-1791 that’s not stored any way other than paper records in our vault downstairs,” he said. “Correct me if I’m wrong, but Kentucky wasn’t even a state. It’s things like that that you can never replace.”

“I have a list of other records, some that go back to the Civil War, that we don’t have stored in a permanent fashion other than paper documents.’”

Funds for the grants were made available through fees enacted by the Kentucky General Assembly to preserve and retain local public records. Any local government agencies may apply for this grant.

The other agencies awarded the 2019 Local Records Grant Program funds were:

Bath County Clerk – $4,668

City of Bowling Green – $50,685

Bourbon County Clerk – $90,303

Carroll County Clerk – $11,365

Fleming County Clerk – $29,830

Gallatin County Clerk – $39,350

Jefferson County Clerk – $10,354

Kenton County Clerk – $109,088

Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government Council Clerk – $11,670

McCracken County Public Schools – $36,080

Nelson County Clerk – $47,380

Paducah Police Department – $23,974

Planning and Development Services of Kenton County – $4,815

Trigg County Clerk – $39,343

“These funds will allow local agencies to preserve, manage and provide access to records in a way that benefits both the agency and the public,” KDLA Commissioner Terry Manuel said. “It is important to ensure that citizens have access to these local records now and in the future.”

With four regional administrators working with local officials, KDLA ensures professional archival and records management assistance in county and city offices, school districts, and health departments. Local Records Grant funds have supported work in microfilming, preservation, equipment, automated indexing, digital imaging systems and codification of ordinances.