Lake Horton artifacts may be mishandled

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Citizen-Letters-3

Embedded in the Fayette County’s 2020 budget is a request to separate the Lake Horton Artifact Collection and make a traveling exhibit, a permanent exhibit and a lesson plan for $45,000.

The artifacts are from the archeological survey of Lake Horton. This survey was required as part of the 404 Permit to build the reservoir. The 404 Permit is a legal agreement between the County and the Army Corp of Engineers.

Paragraph 5 of the MOA (Memorandum of Agreement) states, “All artifacts, records, notes and maps generated by this project should be curated in a depository that meets the standards of 36CFR79.” The county does not have a facility that meets this standard.

This collection was not curated properly. One commissioner wanted to split the collection among different locations. This included the library. The library is not a proper place to curate the collection. The commissioner left office before this was completed. Staff put the collection on shelves in storage and waited.

More than a year ago the Water Committee was asked to properly curate the collection. The Water System staff was surprised that the collection was in the building. They had a problem getting the most valuable pieces from the safe. Then the same idea came up: The urge to curate the collection in different places in the county. I even heard from one mayor looking forward to getting part of the collection for his city hall.

The county authorized a report by New South Associates for interpreted recommendations. It does not appear that New South Associates was asked about the MOA and about conditions for curating the collection. Their charge was to present ideas for sharing parts of the collection as broadly as possible.

Part of their proposal is for the “Water System to track the location of the artifacts that have been separated from the collection.” “As an additional preventative measure, artifacts that are installed in the exhibit will be photographed using New South’s artifact photography methods to ensure a digital record exists in case of artifact damage or loss.”

Vice-Chairman Herb Frady concurred with the Memorandum of Agreement on behalf of the Board of Commissioners. Before the board votes on this expenditure they should have the county attorney review the MOA, including contacting the Army Corp of Engineers.

If the board decides to spend $45,000 on this item, the board should at least consider keeping the collection together and following the standards set in 36CFR79.

Tony V. Parrott
Fayetteville, Ga.