Weatherford Democrat

January 16, 2014

County moves forward with historic records restoration


Weatherford Democrat

— By JUDY SHERIDAN

Parker County commissioners Monday approved a $188,000 bid from a Dallas company named Kofile, moving ahead with plans to restore and preserve county documents dating back to the 1870s.

The approval is contingent on reviews by the county attorney and auditor.

The company was recommended by County Clerk Jeane Brunson, who initiated the restoration project about six years ago, convincing the court to let her assess user fees to fund it, per state statute.

Since then Brunson has collected more than $300,000 by adding a $5 fee to certain documents filed in the county’s records and deeds department. She said she is now ready to move forward with the project.

“I feel quite confident that Kofile is the appropriate choice,” she told the court. “The restoration is meticulously done. They will also microfilm and maintain copies of all the documents, and microfilm is the only source of restoration or preservation that the Texas State Library recognizes as being permanent.”

Jonelle Bartoli, who toured the company’s facility with Brunson, also vouched for Kofile’s personnel, processes, archival methods and secure building.

Kofile historian George Summers told commissioners that the books would be picked up in an environmentally controlled vehicle, protected by a $1 million catastrophic insurance policy during transport, moved from one indoor environment to another and kept in a secure vault.

He said the first phase would tackle the records in the worst condition — 71 index books — while adding that payment would not be collected until the project is complete.

“It’s a great satisfaction for me to see this done,” Summers said, “to see the history not only of Parker County but the history of Texas preserved. I promise you this will be something to be very, very proud of.”  

One document to be preserved, dated in 1873, shows the transfer of 44.3 acres of land from Gov. Edmund Davis to Oliver Loving, Brunson has said. Another, filed in 1876, was the first filed in Parker County records after a fire destroyed all previously existing records and deeds.

The task will take eight to 10 weeks to complete, with the end product accessible by computer, according to Summers.

“The preserved books are actually usable,” he explained. “When we finish the preservation of an object like this, you can actually say that particular page will last 300 to 500 years.

“Once we get all the tape removed, glue removed and get the acid neutralized, we actually digitize the page at that time. Then we take the digitized information and make a roll of archivable microfilm, which will always be in our vault over in Dallas.”

“It’s great to be preserving the rich heritage of this county,” County Judge Mark Riley remarked. “We have so much growth here, but there’s not a connection sometimes with new people.”

Brunson said it would take four to five years to restore and preserve all the county’s documents.