Keeper of the records

CLARION – Dwight Reiland has been Wright County’s record keeper since November 1978.

In his 35 years ‘on the square’ in Clarion, the University of Northern Iowa graduate has used his learned skills to serve the county and its residents. from his office in the Wright County Courthouse

According to Reiland, his main function – and that of Iowa county recorders in general- is to keep track of real estate transactions of the county.

“We record every document that effects real estate,” he said. “Deeds, mortgages, affidavits. All real estate transfers begin in this office. This is where it gets into the system. Then it moves through the various county offices – the auditor’s, assessor’s, and eventually makes it to the tax roles in the county treasurer’s office.”

Over the years, Reiland has seen many changes of how things are recorded, he said.

“When I first started, all of our information was typed on indexes and put into books,” he said. “Deeds were copied on to the pages of record books. It didn’t take long to outgrow our storage area in the vault as the volume of records continue to increase. At that point, we began to microfilm the records to conserve space. In 1992, we began computer indexing. Then in 2001, we began imaging our documents.” He said imaging allows people to view the county documents on line.

Reiland said he considers his proudest achievement the work he’s done that allows users to be able to access up to 98 percent of Wright County records without coming to the courthouse.

“In 2003, the state Legislature provided funding for us to be able to put all county records online,” he said. “I was president of the Iowa County Recorders Association at the time and served on an eight-member task force to develop the website. It took lots of work and lots of meetings.”

He said now someone can look up most records on Saturday afternoon in the comfort of their own home, by going to Iowa Land Records, using a free password and starting their search for information in any county in Iowa.

A second large function of the recorder’s office is the licensing for the Department of Natural Resources and the Department of Public Health.

“We license boats, snowmobiles, and ATVs,” said Reiland.

A sports enthusiast himself, Reiland’s office sells hunting and fishing licenses. Issuing birth and death certificates and marriage licenses are also part of a recorder’s duties.

“There is nothing magical about what we do here,” said Reiland. “It is a very mechanical process as we keep the records of real estate and other vital statistics of people who live or own property in Wright County.”