On Friday afternoon, Northampton County dedicated its new archives building, located at 999 Conroy Place in Forks Tp. This 9,750 sq ft building has been completely renovated with climate-controlled high-density shelving, along with a public reading room in the front.
That room is named in honor of Maurice Dimmick, the county's first archivist, and a fixture at Northampton County for many years. He started in 1961 in the Register of Wills office, and was one of the good guys who truly cared about the County. He helped design what the state recognized as the finest archives facility in the state. Glenn Reibman is the Executive who tore it down. on that day, though retired, Maurice drove to the courthouse from Northampton and watched the wrecking ball.
That wrecking ball also lured someone out of retirement. Executive John Stoffa.
That was a bad year for Northampton County, the year of the $25 million swaption, as well as the demolition of the best records facility in the state.
This new facility was supported last year by just five members of Council: John Cusick, Peg Ferraro, Scott Parsons, Bob Werner and Ken Kraft. They all came to yesterday's dedication. Lamont McClure and Tom Dietrich voted against it, while Barb Thierry and Bruce Gilbert were absent that day. For the past nine years, the County has been paying $110,000 a year to store its records in another County, where they were hard to access and sometimes went missing.
Glenn Reibman, the Executive who tore down a state-of-the-art facility, now wants to "finish the job" he started. Another candidate, Lamont McClure, opposed the purchase and never bothered showing up for yesterday's dedication, even though a large part of it involved a special recognition of Maurice Dimmick.
After receiving a proclamation from Stoffa yesterday. Maurice tried to shake Stoffa's hand, but Stoffa gave him a big hug instead.
It was a touching moment.
We read all the time that government workers are lazy bums who do not deserve their jobs, blah, blah, blah. But most of them are like Maurice. One of them is his successor, Renee Drago. She spent years driving back and forth to Lehigh County to retrieve records as needed. How she did it is impossible for me to comprehend. If a second reading room is ever dedicated, it should be in her honor.
Northampton County's first archive building, incidentally, was built in 1926, and is probably the first ever in the Commonwealth. It was rebuilt in 1953, and again in 1984.
|Renee Drago, Northampton County archivist, with predecessor Maurice Dimmick|
|These old Sheriff Deed books are still in active use. I had to use one just last week for a title search.|