County offices changing records systems from paper to electronic

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 14, 2003

[1/12/03]This time next year many kinds of records in the Warren County Chancery and Circuit clerk’s offices may no longer be kept on paper.

The new system in those two courthouse offices allows people to view scanned images of some public documents on computer monitors there.

“We are scanning all new cases that come in here,” deputy circuit clerk Shelly Palmertree said. Paper copies of newly received cases will continue to be kept during the system transition, which will last until staff becomes comfortable with the new system, she added.

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After that happens, “we’re going to scan the document and give it back to them,” Palmertree said of attorneys and others who file the several hundred pages a day the office receives.

If paper copies of digitally-stored documents are needed they may be printed from the terminals in the office.

The new courthouse system has Internet-like screens that allows searches of either chancery or circuit clerk’s office records.

In both clerks’ offices, paper documents are being “back-scanned” for storage and searching, the same as newly received ones.

The circuit clerk’s office keeps files on all pending cases, some of which date to the early 1990s, Palmertree said. With storage space at such a premium, the county needed to find another way to store some documents, she said.

In the new system, scanned images are being kept on special, removable compact discs in a digital “jukebox” in the courthouse, said Alex Griffith, a project manager with Delta Computer Systems of Gulfport, the company that set up the system. The project cost $171,840, county systems analyst Susan Keys said.

The county’s chancery clerk, Dot McGee, is responsible for maintaining the records of the board of supervisors and the chancery court. The circuit clerk, Larry Ashley, maintains the voter rolls, and records for circuit and county courts.

In the future, marriage licenses and other kinds of records may also be stored electronically, Palmertree said.

Meanwhile, the city is also upgrading and adding to the Vicksburg police and fire departments’ technological capabilities.

Since Oct. 1, the city has put in a system to allow digital storage and transfer of photographs of arrestees. Also in progress is a program that will allow the police department to analyze crime patterns geographically.

A project is also continuing to create a computer network linking each of the city’s seven fire stations, so records may be delivered electronically to headquarters, Ford said.

The mapping system is anticipated to be in place in about 60 to 90 days, said Louis Castoria, vice president of Application Data Systems Inc., the city’s vendor in the project.

The digital imaging and mapping projects together, with accompanying upgrades to central server computers, were budgeted to cost a total of $53,134, city technology manager Billy Gordon said. The cost of creating the fire-department network may have been covered by normal maintenance upgrades, or payments over two different fiscal years.