Tons of boxes of old, perhaps musty papers bearing information about people and events long, long ago may not sound like an important matter to some people. They may question whether preservation of such records should be a priority for taxpayers.
Fortunately, Belmont County commissioners don’t fall into that category. They understand the importance of preserving old county records and are moving to ensure that it is done.
Historians and genealogists are well aware of the many reasons why old records, even those that, at first glance, may not seem to have any connection to area residents alive today, need to be preserved. They are invaluable resources for those seeking to understand local history and/or to trace their roots and learn more about their ancestors.
Belmont County has a rich, voluminous treasure trove of such old records. For years, there has been some question regarding how they could be kept safe and, perhaps, organized.
During a recent meeting of the Cumberland Trail Genealogy Society, plans to construct a building to house the records were discussed. County Commission President Gordie Longshaw noted that locations in Barnesville and Morristown are being investigated as possible sites for the building. Funds are available for construction, it was noted.
Commissioner Charles Probst added that commissioners hope to employ a full-time librarian to oversee the records repository. There also has been discussion of finding ways to organize the old records, making it easier for researchers to use them.
Bravo! Belmont County is, of course, fortunate to have money available to construct a records repository. But it — and those everywhere who may find the records invaluable — also are fortunate that the county has many residents who have encouraged commissioners to take the action. And, of course, those concerned about the records are lucky to have a county commission that shares their sense of priorities.
As plans for the repository move forward, it is possible — probable, in fact — that challenges to the project’s completion will arise. They often do when a proposal of the magnitude of what commissioners intend is involved. But as such problems arise, we encourage commissioners to press forward. The plan is a good one.