Safe-keeping sought for Knox records

KNOX — Despite a $7,000 state grant for consulting services, officials agreed that the safety and organization of the town’s records is lacking.

Pamela Fenoff, planning board secretary for the town, asked during the Dec. 10 board meeting about the grant and the storage of the town’s birth and death records. She lost the November election running on the Independence, Conservative, and Republican lines against longtime Democratic Supervisor Michael Hammond and said she is starting a community newsletter for Knox.

Fenoff asked whether the historic records could be moved to the records room to protect them in case of a fire. Hammond said it would be possible and that the downstairs room  in the recently renovated and expanded town hall can prevent a fire from breaching it for at least two hours.

Hammond said he had just looked at the old ledgers the day of the meeting.

Town Clerk Kimberly Swain, a Republican who did not seek re-election, said Wednesday she would be moving the records from the closet into the records room.

“That’s really important, because Knox lost all their records in 1850, with a fire,” said John Elberfeld, treasurer of the Knox Historical Society, during the Tuesday meeting. He suggested the historical society could help create copies.

“It would just be unbelievable to lose those records for the sake of carrying 50 pounds worth of paper downstairs and putting them in a corner somewhere — golly,” Robert Price, planning board chairman, said during the meeting.

Fenoff said she first saw the birth and death records when Swain opened the closet while they were working in the upper-floor conference room near the supervisor’s office. Swain said she initially moved the birth and death records into the records room when it was completed, but they were put in the upstairs closet for the registrar of vital statistics to have easier access.

The grant from the New York State Education Department was used to hire K Sickler Murphy Records Management Consultants to assess the storage needs of the town and create an inventory of its records. The scope of the project was limited from its original proposal when the state funds were reduced from $10,000 to $7,000.

When asked by Fenoff, Hammond said the town doesn’t have any plans to install a cage, as the firm recommended.

Kerry Murphy of K Sickler Murphy told The Enterprise that the firm inventoried the town’s records and designed a floor plan, but shelving and a cage for the records weren’t covered by the grant.

“There were some departments that were in people’s homes and the records were not available for us to inventory,” said Murphy.

Recommendations for the cage, shelving, and other grants were given to the town board, Swain told Fenoff.

The database lists records according to their location within Town Hall. Fenoff asked whether the database could help her, as she recently had trouble locating the town’s original zoning ordinance.

“In my office, yes, you could find it through the database,” said Swain of a needed document. “Downstairs, not so much. The records that were inventoried down there were inventoried, and then in the database. They were placed on the table or on the floor, and that’s the location that was given in the database.”

When shelving was installed later, Swain said, boxes of records were moved without her knowledge, so the database isn’t reliable for records in the records room.

“Any of the important records are in our offices, up in the building here,” said Hammond, noting he had brought payroll documents to the records room just that day.

“If you do put something down there, that should go to the clerk,” Swain said to Hammond. “That way, she can do it in the database and put it down there. Anytime I bring stuff down there, or anything gets destroyed, the database reflects what I have done.”

Murphy said a good management program limits access to records, and the purpose of the cage was to do so.

“The area needs to be secured so that only one person is going in to get out whatever it is you need,” said Murphy.

Other business

In other business, the town board:

— Acknowledged the community service of Lewis Tubbs, who died on Nov. 11. Tubbs maintained the Knox Little League field and worked at the town transfer station;

— Voted, 5 to 0, to advertise the vacancy of a position at the transfer station;

— Appointed, 5 to 0, Joseph Adriance as a part-time, temporary highway department employee;

— Voted, 5 to 0, to authorize the supervisor to purchase a new computer for his office. Hammond said his current computer is about 10 years old and is the only computer with all the town’s financial records. He expected the cost to be around $500;

— Heard from Thomas Payne, member of the Knox Youth Council, about a ski program for children at the Maple Ski Ridge in Rotterdam. It includes six lift tickets and ski lessons, starting the first week in January;

— Heard from Hammond that a kiosk for mailboxes is being ordered and that contracts have to be written for mail delivery. The kiosk not going to be covered, Hammond said, and is to be placed near the driveway, behind the historical society museum.

The United States Postal Service has not had a physical location in town since its hamlet office was closed due to its poor conditions in November 2012.

Hamond said a survey of residents about what services are needed in the town will be sent out. He did not know when;

— Received copies of a draft employee handbook;

— Heard from Councilwoman Amy Pokorny that a draft survey of 25 questions about the town’s comprehensive land-use plan has been outlined for board members to review. A workshop was held with residents on Nov. 26, she said, to develop questions for the survey.

“I thought we were having another workshop, because we didn’t get to everything,” said Vasilios Lefkaditis, a resident seated in the gallery.

“You mentioned six items,” said Fenoff. “We only discussed two.”

“We’ll see what kind of input we get,” Pokorny responded. “I think when you look at it, you’ll see it’s pretty thorough.”

Fenoff suggested an additional question, paraphrasing it as: “Would you like to see Knox as a bedroom community for Albany workers or would you like to see Knox as an actual town with businesses and, perhaps, a main street?”;

— Voted, 5 to 0, to move the first regular meeting of the town board in 2014 to Jan. 7 at 7:30 p.m. to accommodate board members’ schedules. They scheduled the organizational meeting for Jan. 1 at 11:30 a.m.;

— Voted, 5 to 0, to pass a resolution accepting the retirement-system report for Assistant Building Inspector Daniel Sherman; and

— Thanked Swain, as did Fenoff and Lefkaditis, for her eight years of service as the town’s clerk.

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