Luzerne County marriage licenses and naturalization records dating back more than 200 years may be viewed by outside computer users for a fee in the near future, county Manager Robert Lawton told some council members Tuesday night.
The change, which has been requested by genealogy researchers for years, was disclosed during new committee meetings aimed at keeping county council members more informed about developments in day-to-day operations.
Lawton answers questions and briefs council on pending issues at council meetings, but some council members believe the formation of eight committees will force more discussion.
Information about the computerization of historical records, including old deeds, was provided during the Judicial Services/Justice Committee meeting.
Three other committees met for the first time Tuesday: Correctional Services, Administrative and Operational Services. Council members Jim Bobeck, Rick Williams, Tim McGinley, Stephen A. Urban and Stephen J. Urban serve on all four.
Among the other administrative activities presented by Lawton:
• The 911 center is examining computerized mapping locator technology that automatically pinpoints the closest advanced life support unit when an emergency call is received. The system would provide 911 with the information it needs to dispatch a responder who can arrive the fastest, putting the emphasis on patient safety instead of “territorial issues” among responders, he said.
• 911 also is developing a map of emergency calls to identify where the most incidents occur. The map will be publicly released to provide ambulance providers and local government officials with ideal locations for emergency response services, though the county can’t force them to act on the information.
• The election bureau is working on a “complete reorganization” of campaign finance reports filed in the office, which should make it easier to scan reports and post them online as requested by several citizens and officials. The bureau also is developing a simple campaign finance guide to reduce errors and unnecessary filings and reassessing all 160 polling places to resolve accessibility issues for the disabled.
• Human resources is kicking off a wellness initiative for county employees on April 1 in an attempt to lower health care costs and working with the county’s insurance provider on a new safety committee initiative aimed at reducing insurance claims.
• Redesign of the county website (www.luzernecounty.org) is being discussed to make the site easier to navigate and more relevant to citizens.
• A new county purchasing policy promised under home rule is in the second stage of review and targeted for approval March 1.
• A worst-to-best report on county-owned roads and bridges is being compiled to plan future repairs and aid in the county’s efforts to encourage municipalities to take over infrastructure in their jurisdictions.
• The administration is working on a proposal seeking a company to identify all opportunities to generate revenue from advertising on county property. Lawton said he will consider any options, including billboards, kiosks in county buildings and advertisements on county vehicles and in mailings.
• A meeting is scheduled this week with a state forester to discuss options to timber on county property to increase revenue.
Williams asked Lawton if he believes the election bureau has sufficient staff.
The county election board had issued a letter last month saying it will be “next to impossible” to conduct the May primary election without major problems due to the layoff of an election worker on top of four staff reductions in the office last fall.
Lawton said he believes the staffing is adequate. During busy election periods, workers may be temporarily pulled from other offices to assist, he said.
Stephen J. Urban asked about progress seeking an information technology director to replace Steve Englot, who left in October.
The search is not going well because of the salary and working conditions, Lawton said.
The position is advertised at $55,000 to $70,000, and the office is down to two employees due to the layoff of a third worker last month.
“Not everyone wants to take on the challenges of working in Luzerne County, but we continue to advertise,” Lawton said.