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EDITORIAL: Archives should stay on front burner

It is obvious some of the passion for the full funding of the Georgia Sate Archives facility in Morrow has died down.

However, just because the public outcry may have waned a bit, it does not mean the preservation of a fully-operational, readily-accessible, adequately-staffed facility is any less important to our community or the citizens of Georgia.

When the state’s legislative session began this week only about a dozen historians and genealogists showed up with protest signs demanding full funding of the archives facility at Clayton State University.

As reported in the Clayton News Daily, the archives faced the prospect of restricted access to the valuable records to a by-appointment-only facility.

At the ninth hour legislators granted a reprieve by agreeing to transfer the administration of the archives from the Secretary of State’s Office to the University System of Georgia. That transfer is still pending legislative approval.

Activists have suggested the archives facility has simply become a pawn in a budgeting chess game and the amount of money needed to maintain a fully accessible facility, compared to waste in state spending, is paltry.

Staff has already been slashed.

The small group of protesters Monday held signs, marching in a circle on the Capitol’s steps while chanting “Save the archives,” “Full funding, fair funding” and “Five days a week.”

The protesters called on the Georgia General Assembly to inject as much as $600,000 into the archives budget as part of its transfer to the university system.

We agree with Jonesboro-based historian Jim Sterling who said our county has a vested interest in the future of the Georgia Archives, recognizing the visibility and economic impact of the important facility.

The Clayton County Legislative Delegation has pledged its support to do whatever can be done to support the archives during the General Assembly’s session.

We understand the state’s budget will be tight again this year, but full funding, at least to the tune of a half-million dollars for the Georgia State Archives is a fight well worth fighting.

Under the leadership of Senator Gail Davenport as chair, Clayton County in fortunate to have a very strong veteran legislative delegation.

They are not without influence in the General Assembly.

We encourage them to use that influence for the benefit not only of the Georgia State Archives, Clayton State University, the city of Morrow, but all of Clayton County.

— Jim Zachary