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Governor to sign archives transfer bill Monday

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal

— Gov. Nathan Deal is expected to make the much anticipated transfer of the Georgia Archives to the University System of Georgia official next week, Clayton News Daily has learned.

Plans are underway for Deal to hold a signing ceremony for House Bill 287 Monday at 1:30 p.m. in his office at the state Capitol, said Clayton County Economic Development Director Grant Wainscott. Those plans include the sending out of invitations to members of the Friends of the Georgia Archives, said Wainscott, who is also treasurer of the FOGA Board.

The Secretary of State’s office threatened to close the Morrow-based facility to walk-in traffic last fall because of budget cuts. That provoked a large public outcry and, as a result, state officials chose to keep it open instead by transferring it to the university system.

“Obviously, this is great news as we work to continue to keep the archives there in Morrow,” Wainscott said.

Attendance at the signing is limited by the Governor's Office to 20 guests, said Wainscott. He said the "Friends" board is trying to keep its guest list shortened to key invitees. A Clayton News Daily reporter is among the group's invitees.

The bill has been waiting on Deal’s desk for a month, since it was passed by the Georgia General Assembly, and Clayton County leaders are hailing his plans to sign it into law as a legislative “win” for the county.

Archives patrons, business owners and local officials have asserted for months that the archives is a key economic generator for Clayton County, annually attracting thousands of visitors to the area.

State Rep. Gail Davenport (D-Jonesboro) said that is why the bill signing is so important for the county.

“It helps the economy,” Davenport said. “I know they’re not concerned about that, but it brings money to Clayton County because when people come, they don’t just come for a few hours. They come for a few days and they eat at restaurants, they stay over in our hotels. It’s just money for our economy.”

The bill was one of Deal’s pet pieces of legislation in the General Assembly, and Clayton State University has been tapped to play a key role in the governor’s plans.

Clayton State President Tim Hynes is leading an archives transition committee for the university system, and the college’s archival studies director, Richard Pierce Moses, also serves on the committee.

Students from the archival studies program are also expected to assist Georgia Archives staff in maintaining — and possibly expanding — operations at the facility.

Although Davenport said the archives is important as an economic generator, she said its greatest importance is that it serves as a place where people can come to do historical and genealogical research.

“I just think it’s wonderful that it’s under the university system now,” Davenport said. “I think it’s really important, not only for the citizens right here in Clayton County, but for citizens everywhere.”