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Digital records, cloud may be in county’s future

September 15th, 2016 under Top Stories


PRESIDIO COUNTY – Presidio County commissioners listened to presentations that would upgrade courthouse resources as well as lifted the burn ban.

Matt Brown of S&K Software proposed a document management system that would digitize all county records and be saved on a cloud service. Brown said it would allow easy accessibility and file search as well as improve security. The program tracks who views or edits the document and when it occurred. S&K would maintain the software and make sure it’s always up to date.

When asked by Commission Lorenzo Hernandez, Brown said it’s coming down the road for the federal government to mandate all records be online and easily assessable. County Clerk Virginia Pallarez said she already has a system in place for most of her files as well as other officials. County Attorney John Fowlkes said a massive problem is that the property deeds prior to the year 2000 are not digitalized.

“If the records were to burn, everybody who owns property in Presidio County, excluding our ability to get that information from private sources, would have a gap in their chain of titles. Imagine how that would affect your property values,” said Fowlkes.

S&K took a look at the offices after the meeting to price out how much it would cost to scan all the necessary documents and set up the program. The item was for discussion only, but County Auditor Patricia Roach told the commissioners that they should approach this systemically and should they purchase, determine who would have access to the files. The county will wait for a quote before they make a decision.

There was also a presentation from Aaron Rodriguez of Big Bend Telecom to upgrade the telephone and internet connections at the courthouse, jail, and golf course in Marfa and the annex in Presidio. Rodriguez presented a five-year contract to provide 45 phone lines, 10 fax lines and five conference lines, in addition to fiber internet. There would be a one-time setup fee of $15,000 and an estimated cost of $9,000 per month for both internet and phone usage.

Judge Cinderela Guevara couldn’t contain her enthusiasm about the upgrade, but the item wasn’t for a vote. Hernandez feels if the county is already spending the funds for their current service, he feels they can cover the switch to Big Bend Telecom. Roach said she would work with Treasurer Frances Garcia for a more detailed analysis to see which services would be best.

The commissioners approved a WAVE Plus wireless instant notification system for courthouse security. Constable Steve Marquez, who does courthouse security, told the commissioners in June that the current system in place is outdated and obsolete. As someone who has to provide security on three floors, the WAVE Plus system would alert Marquez through a text message if someone pushes an emergency button in their office.

White said that the decision was a no brainer before he made the motion to approve the system.

Thursday’s tragedy motivated Guevara to organize a roundtable meeting this week with department heads and public officials to brainstorm how the county can prepare for any threat. The judge shared her experience with Thursday’s shooting at Alpine high School during her announcements as she stayed in contact with Marfa ISD to ensure the students were safe.

Also at the meeting, commissioners took no action on the burn ban, which in effect, lifted the burn ban.

Larry Lunsford, of Global Golf Management Group, is allowed to stay at the Marfa Municipal Golf Course, after the commissioners voted in favor. Lunsford has been staying there as his group is preparing a land survey.

Commissioner Loretto Vasquez said he doesn’t have a problem with it because Lunsford has been helping the employees. White’s concern was liability, but Fowlkes said it’s not an issue if Lunsford is a volunteer.

“Volunteers carry very little liability when it comes to their presence on county property, so I’m not really concern with liability,” said Fowlkes.

Before the meeting, Lunsford did submit a letter releasing the county of it during his stay.

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