During Friday's meeting of the Clay County Public Records Commission, a discussion was conducted on how to safely digitize records in books with toxic mold currently being stored at the old Clay County Jail.
Clay County Recorder Joe Dierdorf said according to officials with the Indiana Commission on Public Records, the books may not be destroyed unless the information contained in them is retained in some other form.
"According to state code, the books we have are considered permanent records," he said. "In order to be able to destroy them, we would have to scan each page and put them on microfilm."
The safety of handling the books -- of which Commission President Charlie Brown said there are approximately 250-300 large ledger-sized books -- has been a concern for county officials for a number of years, but Dierdorf provided a possible solution.
"There are some air purifying units available with the technology to eliminate any mold on the books," he said. "It may end up being less trouble than we have thought."
Clay County Auditor Mary Jo Alumbaugh added any proposed projects at the old jail, including the possibility of tearing it down, would be on hold until a solution is found for at least storing the records elsewhere.
The commission approved a motion to research the cost of renting an air purifier that could kill the mold, as well as the potential costs of scanning and microfilming the information, which Alumbaugh said may be charged by the page.
Meanwhile, the commission briefly discussed the amount of public records which has been building in the Clay County Courthouse basement.
It was mentioned each office has its own requirements set by the state as to how long various types of records have to be retained before they can be "purged." However, while some paper records may be destroyed after a set period of time, there are also requirements on which ones have to be retained by other means.
The commission agreed to send out a notice to all county officeholders reminding them of the retention schedule in an effort to scale down the space paper records take up in the basement.
While the commission is only required to meet once a year, they scheduled another meeting for Friday, March 11, in the Commissioners' Courtroom at the Clay County Courthouse to present results of the cost analysis.