Carter County Commission approves purchase for archives space

Published 11:48 am Wednesday, February 21, 2024

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By Robert Sorrell
Star Correspondent
The Carter County government is one step closer to having a space for archives after the commission approved the possible purchase of the Dashiell Masonic Lodge in Elizabethton on Tuesday.
In recent years, official county records have been stored in various places in the county, including at the Workforce Development complex, which has been acquired by the state and will transition into a higher education center.
The Carter County Records Committee has been searching for an appropriate site to permanently store records for several years. The county is required to hold records, and the archives would house documents from several departments, including the circuit court clerk’s office.
Last year, county officials learned some members of the Dashiell Lodge No. 238 of the Free and Accepted Masons, which has a property near downtown, were looking to downsize and potentially relocate.
In August 2023, the commission gave County Mayor Patty Woodby the approval to pay for an appraisal of the property, which is required when the county considers buying property.
Then, this year, the Budget Committee and Buildings and Grounds Committee approved the purchase and sent it to the full commission.
On Tuesday, the commission approved the purchase at a cost not to exceed $510,000, pending final approval from the lodge’s membership.
The building consists of about 11,000 square feet of space, including about 8,000 on the main level. Some renovations will be necessary, which could include a heating, ventilation and air conditioning system, according to County Historian Lisa Germaine.
Money to pay for the project comes from various license fees and can only be used for the archives.
“It has to be for the archives,” Germaine told commissioners.
Some commissioners have questioned whether the archives could be housed at the Herman Robinson Campus, which the state is vacating as it moves to the new higher education center.
Germaine said the location at the Herman Robinson Campus on Arney Street is not ideal.
She added that the county cannot renovate a building for the archives and then use it for something else.
“It would be wonderful to have a building given to us, but it’s not the best location,” Germaine said.
The historian said renovations would likely be required for any building to properly house records.
About $800,000 is currently in the records account, which Finance Director Carolyn Wilson said has accumulated over several years.
It is not yet known how much funds would be needed to move the archives into the building, Germaine said.
Commissioner Robert “Bob” Acuff, who leads the Budget Committee, made a motion to approve the resolution to purchase the property. Commissioner Julie Guinn made a second and the resolution passed.

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