Athens County Sheriff Asked To Redo Records Retention Policy

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Sheriff Patrick Kelly was asked by the Athens County Records Commission to redo a records retention schedule he submitted for approval.

The Athens Messenger reports County Auditor Jill Thompson, a member of the commission, questioned the validity of parts of the document, and also said she was offended by the sheriff’s conduct at the commission meeting Tuesday.

The document, which must be approved by the Ohio Historical Society and Ohio State Auditor’s Offices in addition to the records commission, sets the length of time documents must be retained. It also requires filing of what’s called an RC-3 form when a disposal of records is planned.

However, Kelly’s proposed retention schedule includes a provision saying he can dispose of records as soon as they are microfilmed if they have no evidentiary value. Thompson said she’s concern that provision contradicts the requirement to file the RC-3.

“That’s wording from the prosecutor’s office,” Kelly said, adding that he “absolutely” wants to retain it in the document.

County Prosecutor Keller Blackburn said his office did not provide the wording.

County Commissioner Lenny Eliason, who is chairman of the records commission, said he is checking with the Ohio Historial Society to see if such a provision is allowable.

Thompson also questioned dates in the document, which says it is a revision of a retention schedule issued on Sept. 10, 2011. Thompson said no such document was approved then.

Kelly’s proposed document also says it (the proposed document) was “approved on January 13, 2013, as reflected by the minutes kept by the commission.” Thompson said no action was taken on that date (a Sunday). Kelly has said the date was on there because the document was originally submitted to the commission in January, although Eliason has said he didn’t see it until a couple weeks ago.

Thompson also said she did not believe Kelly’s proposed document was submitted on the proper form, although Kelly said he believed it was.

Records commission member Jessica Markins, who is county recorder, made the motion to ask Kelly to resubmit a corrected document. However, there was a long pause in which no one seconded the motion.

Kelly urged Thompson to second it, pointing out that they are neighbors. Thompson responded that having Kelly as a neighbor scares her — she later told The Messenger she was serious when she made the comment.

Thompson also said Kelly winked and smiled at her at the meeting, which she said she found “very offensive.” Kelly said he was just trying to ease the tension in the room and meant nothing by it. He said he was urging her to second the motion because she was the one who had raised concerns about the document.

“It’s time the auditor grow up and quit playing politics,” Kelly said.

Records commission member Ann Trout, who is county clerk of courts, seconded Markins’ motion.

Trout has records stored in the former jail building at the sheriff’s office, and confirmed for The Messenger that because she was concerned the sheriff would move them, she installed a second lock on door of the room where her records are stored.

Kelly has said he’s been moving records to a county building on North Lancaster Street to make room at the sheriff’s office, and because the North Lancaster site is becoming a central records storage facility for the county.

Markins said that some of her records were moved by the sheriff to a sheriff’s building at the fairgrounds and then to the North Lancaster Street building without her knowledge.

“I have no problem with them being where they are at (North Lancaster), it just would have been nice to be told there were going to be moved,” Markins said.

Markins said that to her knowledge none of the records are missing, but also said she doesn’t believe the records had ever been inventoried before they were moved.