BEEVILLE – Those needing to research land records, get a marriage license or birth certificate will have an easier time of it soon as more of this is going online.
Nickelle Gonzales, county clerk, said that this is just the beginning as she moves the office to more digital, cloud based, systems.
“Right now we are having our maps and plats scanned so those will be online,” she said. “Some of those maps go back to the 1800s.
“They will also be doing my land records dating back to 1995.”
These land records, available now on a state website, were previously scanned but are being placed into the Kofile system so that people can obtain their documents without having to come into the office.
“Beginning in November, they will be able to pull everything from online,” she said. “Everything will be able to be done from home.”
At a cost of $3,461 per month, Kofile is slightly more than their existing system Avenue which runs $2,422 but offers more online options. The ability to purchase records online means the county will also see a percentage of the copy fees.
The digital records, which remain the property of the county, are being stored off-site on secure servers.
“There have been cases where someone has taken county records and held them for ransom,” she said. This system prevents that from occurring here.
For those needing marriage licensees or birth records, all the information can be submitted online. In this case, people will still need to come in as identification must still be verified.
“Before, they would have to fill out the forms, and then there was a 30 minute wait,” Gonzales said. This negates that wait, making it easier on the public and cutting the workload of staff.
“Now that we are open during the lunch hour, everything should be a lot quicker for people,” she adds.
Initially, the plan was to make this switch in January. But Kofile, the company which owns the Vanguard software, offered the county a few months free if they wanted to switch early.
Her next step is the scanning of all the older land records, making them available online.
“Eventually, it will go back to sovereignty,” she said.
She hopes to have all the county’s records available online, but that takes time.
“Eventually I would like to have criminal and civil records online,” she said. “I do feel is important that everything is imaged.”
This will also ensure that nothing happens to these records which are now being stored in the courthouse.
“It has flooded here,” she said. “It has caught fire.”
Archivists can rest assured the original documents will not disappear.
“I don’t plan on getting rid of any of these books,” she said.
Jason Collins is the editor at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 343-5221, or at media@mySouTex.com.