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Officials: Georgia Archives brings people to Clayton

Closing facility would impact education, economic development

The Georgia Archives is important to Clayton County County as an economic generator which affects education, tourism and development, according to officials around the county. The archives has become the center of controversy with Secretary of State Brian Kemp announcing he will have to close the archives to the public because of budget cuts, and Gov. Nathan Deal vowing to keep it open.

The Georgia Archives is important to Clayton County County as an economic generator which affects education, tourism and development, according to officials around the county. The archives has become the center of controversy with Secretary of State Brian Kemp announcing he will have to close the archives to the public because of budget cuts, and Gov. Nathan Deal vowing to keep it open.

— The Georgia Archives may serve the entire state, but its deep roots in Clayton County mean closing it to the public would hurt several area businesses and educational institutions.

Although Gov. Nathan Deal has pledged to keep the archives open, he hasn’t said how he will fund that promise. Secretary of State Brian Kemp made the decision to close public access to the archives, effective Nov. 1, and to cut its staff from 10 people to three, because Deal’s planning and budget office directed him to cut $733,000 from his budget.

Officials from Clayton County and the City of Morrow said it is imperative that the archives remain open because its wealth of historical records is an economic generator for the county.

“People are coming from all across the country to do genealogical research at the Georgia Archives,” said Morrow Mayor Joseph “J.B.” Burke. “It’s putting heads in the beds of our hotels.”

The state archives touches many factors in Clayton County, ranging from education, to marketing, to economic development, so closing the archives to public access would have a far-reaching effect.

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Georgia Archives Assistant Director Anne Smith explains the equipment used at the Morrow-based archives to preserve historical documents, in this Oct. 13, 2009, file photo. Secretary of State Brian Kemp recently announced he will close the archives to the public, beginning Nov. 1, to meet a budget reduction mandate from Gov. Nathan Deal.

Clayton State University created a master’s degree program in archival studies because the university is located next to the state archives and the National Archives at Atlanta. The Clayton County Economic Development department has been trying to use the presence of both archives to convince genealogy-related businesses to build offices at the old Gateway Village site, located across Ga. 54 from the Georgia Archives.

No other community in the nation has a state archives located next door to a national archives. The city has made that claim an important part of their “Come to Morrow” marketing campaign.

“The Georgia Archives is an economic-development piece which brings people to the county and is key to our viability in the Southern Crescent,” said State Rep.-elect Mike Glanton of District 75.

Richard Pearce-Moses, who oversees Clayton State’s archival studies program, said closing the archives to public access would hurt a student’s ability to research history papers and thesis projects at the archives. Although students, like other residents, would be able to make appointments to visit the archives, those appointments would be subject to the availability of the remaining archives staff.

“Students may not be able to complete their research work if they are no longer able to access the primary source records,” he said. “So much for the Governor’s Complete Georgia program because it may delay these students chances of graduate by a semester or more.”

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Clayton County and City of Morrow officials argue closing the Georgia Archives would have a negative impact on education, tourism and economic development in the county.

Grant Wainscott, the economic development director for Clayton County, said it is too early to tell if the possible closing of public access at the archives would have an impact on the Gateway Village redevelopment plans. He and other county economic development officials went to Salt Lake City earlier this year in an effort to lure genealogy-related businesses to the site.

“We are heartened by the public outcry over the potential closing of public access to the state archives,” said Wainscott. “So many agencies rely on the documents housed there. It’s about more than just budgets. There’s a real need to keep this building open because it houses our history.”

Although Wainscott and other officials assert the Georgia Archives is important to the county economy, Wainscott said the county does not have any formal data which shows the archives’ economic impact on Clayton County.

But, reversing the decision to close the archives will take money, and Kemp maintains he doesn’t have the funds to keep the archives open. In an Op-Ed piece released by his office Friday, Kemp said the state has cut his office’s budget appropriations by 25 percent, from $32.1 million to $23.7 million, since 2008.

The secretary also pointed out his office generated $81.5 million in revenues for the state last year through fee collections.

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The Georgia Archives, in Morrow, houses millions of pieces of the state's history, including this replica of Georgia's 1733 colonial seal. As recently as 2009, the archives collection was believed to be large enough to wrap around the world one and a half times.

“During these difficult economic times, the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office simply cannot afford to keep the state archives open to the public,” Kemp wrote in the Op-Ed piece.

Glanton, who previously served the state house from 2006 until 2010, said Kemp makes a good argument about how much money his office makes, versus how much it is given to appropriate in the state budget.

The state representative-elect said Clayton County’s legislative delegation should also have an “active role in discussions with state leaders” on funding the archives since it is located in the county.

Securing funding to keep the archives’ doors open will be one of Glanton’s priorities when he returns to the General Assembly in January, he said.

“I’ve been getting hundreds of e-mails from people saying, ‘Hey, we’re glad you’re back and here is the first issue you need to address,’ ” said Glanton.

Comments

OscarKnight 1 year, 7 months ago

.....Perhaps if the voters in Clayton County would start displaying more support for our State Government, maybe we would have much more of this.

....Brian Kemp is our Secretary of State in Georgia, and he is also a Repulican.....Governor Nathan Deal is also a Repulican.......We have to break off our ties with the Southside of Atlanta and South Dekalb County before we can be an independant county, and begin to gain respect from the rest of the State.

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OscarKnight 1 year, 7 months ago

...Need I say More ?

GOVERNOR
Total Number of Precincts 58
Precincts Reporting 58 100.0 % Total Votes 61414

NATHAN DEAL (R) 10627 - 17.30% ROY E. BARNES (D) 48828 - 79.51% JOHN H. MONDS (L) 1876 - 3.05%

..........................................................................................

SECRETARY OF STATE
Total Number of Precincts 58
Precincts Reporting 58 100.0 % Total Votes 61115

BRIAN KEMP (I) R 11278 - 18.45% G. SINKFIELD (D) 48504 - 79.37% DAVID CHASTAIN (L) 1261 - 2.06%

http://www.claytoncountyga.gov/pdfs/election/final_results/2010_1102_final_official.htm

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OscarKnight 1 year, 7 months ago

....I sincerely think that it would be a sign of courtesy and politeness. to send Brian Kemp and Governor Deal a Thank You letter.

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OscarKnight 1 year, 7 months ago

....Brain Kemp can be found on facebook, if anyone wants to say something to him :

http://www.facebook.com/GASOSKemp

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OscarKnight 1 year, 7 months ago

Quote : "Closing facility would impact education, economic development"

...There is no sense in crying over this; The State of Georgia knows which side that the bread gets buttered on.

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