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Leak in Grundy County records storage facility causes concern

Published: Friday, Aug. 8, 2014 9:56 p.m. CST

MORRIS – An old, leaky roof on a Grundy County storage facility is putting some of the county's historic, vital documents at risk.

The building on Dwight Road was built nearly 65 years ago. According to Grundy County maintenance worker Larry Pelehowski, the facility's metal roof has not been tended to since at least 1962.

"I'll tell you – I won't go on that roof a second time. That roof is dangerous. It's paper-thin and it leaks all over," Pelehowski told the Grundy County Facilities Committee on Thursday.

The leaks are causing concern among county officials, especially Lana Phillips, Grundy County clerk and recorder, and Marcy Miller, Grundy County treasurer, who both have boxes full of archived documents stored within the facility.

While no damage has been done to the records yet, several leaks sprouted near the documents.

Inside the building, the treasurer's office has historic Grundy County property and tax records from the 19th century, many of which are bound in large books and handwritten using calligraphy.

"They are just irreplaceable. They're absolutely beautiful," Miller said Friday.

"I certainly don't want to see them ruined. They're a piece of our history, and if I had room for them in this office, I would certainly have them here," she continued.

The clerk and recorder's office has microfilm aperture cards, recording books and elections materials stored within the building. Phillips said she is required to keep all election materials for a minimum of 22 months after every election, which can take a lot of storage space.

Before being relocated to the leaky building roughly six years ago, the clerk's and treasurer's archives were stored at the Grundy County Administration Building until the space was needed by the Grundy County Health Department.

Originally, the documents were kept inside the Grundy County Courthouse, but were transferred due to space restrictions.

Having the records within the same building as their offices was ideal for Phillips and Miller, in terms of accessibility.

"I think ideally, we would like to bring those documents a little bit closer to the courthouse," Phillips said.

At Thursday's facilities committee meeting, members discussed finding a new home for the records.

A quote to fix the defunct roof came in at $63,000, more than the committee was willing to spend.

Instead, Phillips and Miller are working with Grundy County Administrator Heidi Miller to find alternative storage space before the situation worsens.

"I really don't have a time frame, but I'm sure weather conditions are not going to be terribly good this fall or winter," Phillips said.

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