Safe and secure: Eagle County thrilled with recording grant

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams and three county clerk and recorders, Regina O’Brien of Eagle County, Kim Bonner of Routt County and Matt Crane of Arapahoe County, in front of files at the Eagle County clerk’s office. (SOS photo)

Secretary of State Wayne Williams traveled to the mountains on Monday and the eastern plains last Friday to tout grants county clerks are receiving to help them update and maintain equipment used to record important documents, from land transactions to mineral rights to marriage licenses.

Williams congratulated Eagle County Clerk Regina O’Brien and her staff, who were awarded $23,000 to purchase additional software modules intended to enhance electronic record storage.

“We all know how important it is to electronically preserve document images,” O’Brien said. “We are very, very excited for this addition.”

The money is part of $900,000 that the Electronic Recording Technology Board, created by legislation passed in 2016, has awarded in recent weeks.

“We know there’s a lot of technology in the state that’s outdated,” Arapahoe County Clerk Matt Crane, board chairman, said during a news conference in Eagle. “This gives all counties a chance at having better technology and to be able to push more things to the web to allow citizens to access documents and electronically file.”

All county clerks’ offices contain a treasure trove of historical documents, including information on mining claims and mineral rights. Efforts are underway to assist clerk and recorders in preserving those documents. (SOS photo)

Counties in Colorado already charge a dollar-per-document fee to file records, but for the majority of counties the money doesn’t begin to cover upgrades and purchases. Besides creating the Electronic Recording Technology Board, the recent legislation also authorized clerk and recorders to charge an additional $2-a-document fee for five years to create a pool of money.

Clerks then can apply to the board for grants out of that pool, which already has reached $3.2 million, said Michelle Batey, executive director of the Electronic Recording Technology Board.

“Now we’re starting to see the fruits of that process come to bear. It’s exciting,” said Crane, who was joined by Batey and another ERTB board member, Routt County Clerk Kim Bonner.

Also attending the event, held in the Eagle County’s commissioners’ meeting room, was O’Brien’s recording manager, Karen Valas, Eagle County Commissioner Jeanne McQueeney, deputy county manager Kelley Collier and the county’s IT manager, Jake Klearman.

“This is something I’ve been looking forwarded to fixing for a while now so this is great,” Klearman said. “Thank you.”

“We like grants,” Collier said to laughter.

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams, county clerks and Eagle County staffers celebrate after Eagle County Clerk Regina O’Brien’s office received a $23,000 recording grant. First row, left to row, deputy county manager Kelley Collier, recording manager Karen Valas, Clerk O’Brien and Michelle Batey, executive director of the Electronic Recording Technology Board. Second row: Jake Klearman, Eagle County’s IT operations manager, Routt County Clerk Kim Bonner, Arapahoe County Clerk Matt Crane and Secretary of State Wayne Williams. (SOS photo)

The board so far has announced grants to 14 other counties. Williams met last Friday with the first two clerks who were grant recipients, Lincoln County’s Corinne Lengel and Cheyenne County’s Pat Daugherty. He will met later this year with the clerks from the remaining 12 counties: Alamosa, Archuleta, Bent, Chaffee, Conejos, Costilla, Hinsdale, Lincoln, Mineral, Montrose, Rio Grande and Saguache.

Secretary Williams said property is the biggest investment most Coloradans will make so it is important those documents get recorded properly.

“This is really a big part of what county clerks do,” he said.

The board is housed in the Secretary of State’s office. Chief of Staff Gary Zimmerman serves as the treasurer, and executive assistant Chris Johnson helps staff it.

“We needed assistance and, as he has done in so many ways, Secretary Williams was there,” Crane said.