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Chesapeake Santa delivers new computer to Genealogy Society

By Carol McIntire

Santa delivers new computer
CHECK IT OUT! Genealogy Society President Aaron Dodds (sitting) and members Whitney Bordeaux (standing behind) and Jason Eddy (standing, far right), view a document on the new computer screen with Bryce Holmes of Chesapeake Energy.

Chesapeake Energy officials weren’t clad in Santa Claus suits when they visited the Carroll County Genealogy Society last week, but they did come bearing gifts.

Out of their bag of goodies they pulled a new Dell computer and a 22-inch screen that flips to provide a full-length view of long documents.

The gift, which was a surprise to the society, goes along with a much larger gift Chesapeake is providing: digitizing records that date back to 1833 at a cost of about $200,000.

“The county would never have been able to afford to do this,” said a surprised Aaron Dodds, president of the Genealogy Society. “These records are old and fragile and are being destroyed by so much use by the oil and gas industry. We are so grateful to Chesapeake for doing this for us. It will create more space in the office and help preserve the records.”

Bryce Holmes, automated title system (ATS) supervisor for Chesapeake’s Land Title Department, negotiated the agreement with the Genealogy Society and, along with another Chesapeake official, arranged for 11 imagers to be hired to do the work in-house. Holmes said over half of the people doing the work are Carroll County residents.

“It’s very tedious work,” he explained. Every piece of paper contained in each separate file is removed from its folder, placed under a glass surface and a picture taken of it. The digital image is sent to Chesapeake’s headquarters in Oklahoma where it is processed and made available to the Genealogy Society for viewing on their in-house computer.

“It is a priority for us to preserve the records and take care of them during this process,” Holmes added.

“Customers can come in, pull up the records they want to see on the computer and print them,” Dodds explained. “We won’t have to spend hours making copies in the evening as we have been doing lately.”

Dodds said the office has been receiving about 15-20 requests per day for copies and some of the members had been coming to the office in the evening to make them.

Imaging of the records is underway in the office. Holmes said it will take about three months for the project to be completed.

Dodds said they had to be creative to make accommodations for the project to be done in-house so the records didn’t have to leave the building. He expressed his appreciation to Carroll County Commissioners for their assistance with the project.

He noted the original documents will likely be transported to Iron Mountain in Pennsylvania where they will stored in a temperature-controlled environment to help preserve them.

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