Gas, oil digital documents may need redone

LISBON – Up to 25 percent of the mortgages, deeds and leases Chesapeake Exploration paid to have converted into a digital format may need to be redone, according to Columbiana County Recorder Theresa Bosel.

“We’re finding more and more documents that were (scanned) poorly,” Bosel said. “We really won’t know how many until we delve into the project.”

The cost of rescanning these records is included in the $100,000 state loan county commissioners recently agreed to accept on behalf of Bosel to upgrade her office operations.

According to the 10-year loan agreement, $53,000 will be used to pay Cott Systems to scan those documents that need to be redone and scan additional documents and integrate them into the office’s electronic records management system. Another $35,000 will be used to hire someone part-time to redact private information, such as Social Security numbers, from these documents. Cott is the company under contract to maintain and upgrade the recorder office’s document system.

Under the December 2011 agreement, Chesapeake was to scan an estimated 1.2 million recorder documents into an electronic format, with the county responsible for creating a user-friendly searchable system for those records and integrating them into the office’s document management system. The $120,000 being spent by Chesapeake was used as a local match by former Recorder Craig Brown to qualify for the state loan.

Commissioners demurred on accepting the loan in 2012, and Brown went on to lose his re-election bid that year. After taking office in 2013, Bosel decided to follow through with the loan, which is when she discovered problems with the quality of the reimaging work that was done.

Bosel believes up to 25 percent of the images are either illegible, were never scanned, or are split into two screens, making copies unusable for legal purposes.

“A large portion of what was done has either been redone or needs redone,” she said. “The fact is it’s in my lap now and I’m trying my best to clean it up.”

Bosel said the problem with the split images involved work performed by GBS Corp., the Youngstown company retained by Chesapeake to photograph the oversized lease index books and scan them into electronic disk form. GBS claimed Brown was aware they were unable to fit the scanned images onto a single page/screen.

In an email dated Dec. 9, Bosel told GBS that her staff said there must have been some miscommunication because “no recorder would ever knowingly accept them this way. They cannot be used by the public, the CDs are virtually useless and we will have to have them all rescanned if in fact the case is that they are all this way.”

Brown said in an email to the Journal that he was aware some of the imaging was subpar and requested it be redone, but “sometimes due to the microfilm quality some images can only be so good.”

As for whether all of the images could be fitted onto one page, Brown said he did not consider that his “utmost concern” given all of the other issues the office was dealing with at the time because of the flurry of gas-related title search/lease recording activity going on in the county. The original documents are still available for copies.

“I believe that Theresa is doing the best job she can. It’s a complicated time for county recording and when I left there were several irons in the fire. I think she is doing the right thing by continuing with document integration and the overall project,” he said.