By CLINT FOSTER
PALO PINTO – Members of the Palo Pinto County Commissioners’ Court said “We do” Monday morning, accepting a bid for an imaging project to significantly improve the database of marriage records in the County Clerk’s office.
The county will pay $87,882.60 plus a $2,500 upload fee for Cogniserv to scan and image all of the county’s marriage certificates – dating back to 1857 – and create an online database for the public to easily access.
County Clerk Janette Green told the Index the money will come out of Records/Preservation (the money citizens pay to file documents), rather than out of property taxes.
She added it will be well-worth the investment.
“We really wanted to get this done,” she said. “We’re going to try to get it to where there are indexes online, so you can see if there’s (a copy of the marriage license) here.
“It’s just a lot easier for us to find it online and print it out, rather than have to go digging through the books. This way, we can look up their name, no matter what year.”
Green said, according to state law, citizens will not be able to print copies of marriage licenses directly off of the internet because all copies are required to be certified by the clerk’s office. But the indexes will allow both citizens and clerks to more easily search through countless documents with only the name of a bride or groom.
Once someone has found the marriage certificate they are looking for – if they do not wish to go to the Palo Pinto County Courthouse – they can simply send $21 with their request in the mail and the Green’s office will send a certified copy of the license back to them. Green said applications for that and many other forms can all be found on the county’s website.
Green said she is familiar with Cogniserv, as they also did an imaging project for the county’s birth records. She said, at that time, the company made mistakes and the scanned records weren’t completely accurate, causing a new set of headaches for her office. But since then, she said Cogniserv has combined with another company that has 30 years experience in the field, so she feels much more comfortable with them now. Cogniserv was also the only company to offer a bid to the county for this project.
County Judge David Nicklas said the Commissioners wanted to accept Cogniserv’s bid to make the County Clerk’s office more accessible and the process of retrieving marriage licenses much easier for everyone involved.
“(We wanted to do this) for the ease of the residents of the county, historians and people who are doing genealogical searches,” he said. “It should also save some time for those clerks over there so they can take care of some other things that consumers need.”
With online databases being built for marriage and birth records, Green said she also wanted to do the same for death records. However, Cogniserv’s bid of $37,506.85 was a bit steep for the county and they could not afford it on top of the already expensive and more necessary marriage records. Green said she hopes to have the money to begin work on the death records by next fiscal year.
In other business, Commissioners unanimously:
• Approved reclassifying full-time road and bridge position in Precinct 1 to part-time.
• Approved Palo Pinto County Emergency Management Action Plans.
• Approved the Palo Pinto County Hazard Mitigation Action Grant Program Plan with COG.
• Approved the County Auditor’s fiscal year 2013 year-end report. According to the reported, the county generated $14 million in revenue and spent about $13.5 million on various expenditures.
• Approved a computer system for the County Auditor’s office.
• Approved the purchase of new networking equipment.
• Reinstated a county-wide burn ban at County Fire Marshal Buddy Harwell’s behest. All outdoor burning will be banned for 90 days, with the exception of outdoor cooking on grills and any other burning used exclusively for recreational and noncommercial preparation of food or as a means to keep warm. This order specifically prohibits burning to clear land and the us of Chinese sky lanterns. Violation of this order is a Class C misdemeanor punishable by a fine not to exceed $500.