The Pierce County Register of Deeds (ROD) office is taking steps toward making their efforts more efficient and safeguarding decades of records by undertaking a large project.

With their hard work underway, the Pierce County ROD was recognized with an Impact Award by the Wisconsin Register of Deeds Association (WRDA) June 7 at a conference in Minocqua.

The award came as a "complete surprise" said Julie Hines, Pierce County Register of Deeds, as Pierce County was the only recipient of the award. It was also the WRDA's first time giving an office this award.

Hines said the association was highlighting Pierce County's adversity and efficiency while pursuing changes.

Pierce County ROD is gearing up for a years-long project of transferring decades of pre-1998 records to digital files that will ensure the safety of their materials dating back as far as 1853.

Currently, all documents older than 1998 are subject to potential damage from fires, floods and other disasters as they are filed in a room at the Pierce County Courthouse.

The office's scanning request for proposal and all received bids will be brought before the Pierce County Finance and Personnel Committee in early July to be voted on for further proceedings.

Hines said the office successfully implemented their credit and debit card payment option which has been helpful for people wanting to access documents with ease.

In August 2017 the office became part of the 71 counties out of the 72 in Wisconsin which utilize an electronic recording system. Through four vendors, customers are able to submit paper documents electronically which cuts delivery charges and increases efficiency.

"We're proud of that, for Wisconsin to be that far along (digitally)," Hines said.

In December 2018, Pierce County ROD upgraded their software to the most current version as well, which required one week of training for the office staff. The last time software was upgraded was in 2003.

Register of deeds offices are responsible for keeping and filing records of all sorts including birth, death, marriage, land deeds and plats which are important for the general public, surveyors, federal departments, banks and attorneys to access.

"We want to stay current, keep getting data available to people digitally," Hines said. "With hard work, we can make Pierce County the best it can be."