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Work begins on new archive facility

By Billy Corriher

The National Archives and Records Administration broke ground Thursday on a massive records storage facility in Ellenwood. The 350,000-square-foot building will house documents from federal agencies like the Internal Revenue Service and the Census Bureau.

The facility will complement the smaller archive facility which is under construction in the Morrow-Lake City section of the county, said James McSweeney, regional administrator for the NARA.

"The Morrow facility stores historically valuable records," he said. "The clientele for the records center will be mainly representatives from federal agencies."

McSweeney said the NARA hopes the building will be finished by August and plans to be fully moved into the facility by January 2006.

David Weinberg, program manager for the NARA's records center program said the Ellenwood facility will replace the current records center in East Point, which is "probably one of the poorest facilities we have."

Weinberg said the records center will be the first NARA facility specifically built to comply with the agency's "2009 Standards," which apply more stringent measures to protecting the documents.

"(The Ellenwood facility) also gives us an opportunity to centralize operations that are now in three different buildings," he said.

In addition to replacing the current East Point facility, the new building will store records now kept at NARA annexes in Palmetto, Ga., and Birmingham, Ala., McSweeney said.

"It'll be much more effective and cheaper for us," he said.

Crandle Bray, chairman of the Clayton County Board of Commissioners, said that convincing the NARA to locate the facility in the county was a long process.

But Bray said the NARA projects in Ellenwood and Morrow will help students at Clayton College & State University and will give a boost to the local economy by bringing in visitors.

McSweeney said the new NARA facility will employ 50 people once it's open, and more while they are building and moving into the facility.

Because of the sensitive nature of the documents, McSweeney said the Ellenwood facility will have on-site security guards and 24-hour monitoring.