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Berkeley Co.'s virtual courthouse effort honored

December 14, 2007|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - The Berkeley County Commission was presented with the Thelma J. Stone Memorial Achievement Award Thursday.

The award was the fourth year Berkeley County was recognized and second since 2001 when the commission was recognized for its Internet Web site, www.berkeleycountycomm.org

The 2007 award recognizes the county's expansion of online access to public information through the virtual courthouse project. Through the Internet site, residents will be able to review records and purchase copies of deeds and other documents maintained by the county clerk's office.

Gary Wine, the county's information technology director, told county leaders they could announce the new service's availability to the public by next month. County staff next year is expected to complete the scanning of documents dating back at least 60 years for the online service. Wine told commissioners he hoped that work can be completed by June 30, 2008, and would then await their direction on whether to complete the scanning of older county clerk documents or switch over to the circuit court clerk's office to make records filed with the state trial court available online.

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In presenting the award, West Virginia Auditor Glen B. Gainer III said he hoped the state's other 54 counties follow Berkeley County's lead in expanding access to public information.

"It warms my heart, because I try to do that on the state level," said Gainer, who recently published the salary of every state employee on his office's Web site.

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