Storage goes underground

Some Columbia businesses have already turned to subterranean warehousing to solve their space issues. The Boone County Commission might be next.
Tuesday, September 7, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 1:21 a.m. CDT, Monday, July 21, 2008

The real dilemma in the Boone County Courthouse isn’t in the courtroom. It’s in the clerk’s office.

The Missouri Judiciary, the governmental body that oversees the state’s court system, has decided Circuit Court Clerk Cheryl Whitmarsh needs at least five more full-time employees to help her handle the court’s swelling docket.

But there’s no space to add employees because the office is overflowing with case files.

“There’s simply nowhere else to put these records,” Whitmarsh said. “Something has to be done immediately.”

The Boone County Commission wants to spend $15 million to renovate the unfinished third floor of the Boone County Government Center, add a two-story addition to the Boone County Courthouse annex, and build a new two-story office building to replace the Johnson Building. If voters approve this project, it would ease the storage problem at the courthouse and other county offices.

But before any of those plans can be completed, the Johnson Building and the third floor of the government center, which are being used for records storage, must be emptied.

Southern District County Commissioner Karen Miller has been tasked with looking for a new home for the records. The commission toured Underground Records Management LLC located in Subtera, an underground storage facility on Stadium Boulevard.

She has also contacted representatives from Zarchivist, Fry-Wagner Moving and Storage and Data Retention Services, all in Columbia, as well as Underground Vault and Storage in Hutchison, Kan.

Miller hasn’t solicited bids because she’s waiting to see if voters approve the County’s expansion plan, forcing the records to be moved.

“For now, the records could stay where they are, but people in the courthouse would be sitting in each other’s laps,” Miller said.

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