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County approves plan to save thousands on record storage

Commissioners hear from group of employees on their findings

Faced with the rising cost of storing Blair County’s microfilmed records, a group of county employees have come up with a plan they say could save the county hundreds of thousands of dollars — over the next 80 years.

“I just wanted to thank them all,” said Commissioner Amy E. Webster, who noted the employees worked for departments under her oversight.

Webster serves as the commissioner’s liaison to the offices of the Blair County Prothonotary and Clerk of Courts, the Register of Wills and Recorder of Deeds, the Records Department, the Department of Public Works and Facilities and the Emergency Management Agency.

Those departments are led respectively by Robin Patton, Anita Terchanik, Heather Rininger, James Pooler and Mark Taylor.

As Rininger outlined the situation to the commissioners on Tuesday morning, Blair has been storing its records in a facility at Iron Mountain in western Pennsylvania.

The cost of the storage is expected to rise to $3,000 or $4,000 per year because the present storage facility is running out of space.

The state gave Blair the option of continuing to use its present space, place the records in the Pennsylvania State Archives or come up with another alternative.

The group of county workers agreed to come up with an alternative and eventually decided that the county’s 911 Emergency Center in Altoona was the perfect storage location.

Rininger said the county will have to invest an estimated $9,000 for a metal door and other improvements in the designated area, but the emergency management center has enough space to last the next 80 years.

The estimated saving over that time was placed at $325,000, but that is probably a conservative estimate, she said, a statement that was agreed to by Patton.

Patton pointed out the location is secure and the county will be able to install temperature and humidity controls.

The proposal was presented to the commissioners, which includes Webster, Bruce E. Erb and Laura O. Burke.

The commissioners meeting was primarily a work session, which means that the board will not vote on the storage plan when it reconvenes at 10 a.m. Thursday.

Rininger said Blair County stores about 33 reels of microfilmed records each year.

The board did take action on a few items during its Tuesday morning meeting.

The commissioners filled 16 vacant positions, including the hiring of Pooler as manager of public works for county facilities and Paul E. Shaffer as manager of public works for highways.

Also, Eric R. Kay was hired as the director of Veterans Affairs.

Blair County Coroner Patty Ross also received approval for three of her requests. The county approved:

– A contract with Dr. Harry Kamerow, a Centre County pathologist, to perform autopsies at a rate of $1,300 per case.

– An agreement with NMS Labs of Horsham to perform toxicology tests.

– An agreement with MolecularDX LLC of Windber for multiple laboratory services.

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