The Stow Municipal Court is operating today despite weekend flooding that damaged thousands of court records and parts of the building.
According to a press release from Clerk of Courts Kevin Coughlin, courthouse officials discovered a ruptured water line the evening of Jan. 25 that sent water flowing over the security station, into the Clerk's office and the Records Room in the basement.
Closed case files are stored in the secured Records Room. Under Ohio law, minor misdemeanors must be saved for five years after they are closed. More serious offenses require storage for 50 years after the cases have closed.
"Our staff is identifying case files that can be dried out and salvaged," Coughlin said. "After consulting with the Ohio Supreme Court, I have established a protocol for determining and documenting if a file cannot be saved. In these cases, the file will be destroyed. I estimate the number of records to be in the thousands."
Court Administrator Rick Klinger and Stow Building Department personnel were first on the scene Jan. 25, spreading saturated records throughout the courthouse basement in an effort to dry them. Coughlin and Clerk's office staff began clearing materials and sorting records Jan. 26. Building Department staff worked throughout the day and night to dry out the Clerk's office.
"Thanks to very professional and dedicated staff the Stow Municipal Court is fully operational today," Coughlin added. "As we manage the damaged case files, we will strive to preserve as many as possible while adhering to established rules on the destruction of damaged records."