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County Clerk’s Office Partners with Abilities First to Complete First ThinkDIFFERENTLY Backscanning Project
Technical and vocational skills acquired through digitization of county records

Published: 4/30/2019

For More Information Contact:

Catherine Durland 845-486-2133

Poughkeepsie, New York: Dutchess County Clerk Brad Kendall announced the completion of its first ThinkDIFFERENTLY Backscanning Project. A partnership with Abilities First, a Poughkeepsie-based NYSID member agency, employees with special needs received technical and vocational training to index and digitize county records. The project is intended to provide employment training to the non-traditional workforce while addressing the county’s need for digitization of permanent records.

The Dutchess County Clerk, who serves as Records Management Officer, is responsible for all non-current and archival records for county departments and agencies. Using digital technologies in the preservation of paper records, the county launched the ThinkDIFFERENTLY Backscanning Project. The project originated from the ThinkDIFFERENTLY Initiative launched in 2015 by Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro. ThinkDIFFERENTLY serves as a call to action to change the way individuals, businesses, organizations and communities relate to those with special needs.

In the inaugural project, technicians from Abilities First converted 626,888 pages of tax roll records from 1952 to 2001 into usable digital files using scanning and indexing technologies. The high-quality document images, in NYS Archives approved format, are indexed and searchable using both keyword and full text searching mechanisms. Two scanning projects slated for 2019 which have already commenced include digitizing tax rolls from 2002 to 2016 estimated at 405,000 pages and Board of Election Records with a date range from 1921 to 1969 with an estimated page count of over 498,000 pages.


Dutchess County Clerk Brad Kendall stated, “One of the greatest rewards has been to witness the technicians handling the documents with such patience, diligence and commitment. The task not only allows for economic and personal independence, but the documents they are imaging are of great importance. Equally as satisfying is knowing that we are playing a small part in directly contributing to improving our community and the lives of those who have special needs.”

Dutchess County Clerk Brad Kendall and Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro were joined by representatives from Abilities First for a demonstration of the ThinkDIFFERENTLY Scanning Project.  Pictured from left to right: Abilities First Senior Director Mark Nace, Abilities First Chief Executive Officer Jeffery Fox,  Dutchess County Clerk Brad Kendall, Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro, Abilities First Technician Brian Weiner, Abilities First Technician Nick Traudt and Dutchess County Archivist Justin Mancini

Jeffery Fox, Chief Executive Officer of Abilities First stated, “We are so pleased with this partnership which has created truly meaningful employment opportunities for people with special needs. So many of the people that we support who are unemployed can be dedicated, loyal and productive workers given the chance. This successful experience is another example of how people with special needs can have a positive impact on workplace culture and contribute in meaningful ways to business results.”

Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro said, “We are striving to make county government employment more accessible for individuals of all abilities. I thank County Clerk Brad Kendall for choosing to the ‘ThinkDIFFERENTLY’ and work with a great organization like Abilities First to handle this important project. Partnerships like these spotlight talented individuals who are committed to being dedicated employees. We encourage our local business community to ‘ThinkDIFFERENTLY’ and provide employment opportunities for those with developmental and intellectual disabilities, as it is truly a win-win partnership.”