Courts say Clerk’s office should have bulletproof glass

Sheriff Troy Wellman goes through paperwork with Clerk Nicole Bowden at the Moody County Clerk of Courts office. Grant money is being sought to pay for half of a safety project that includes moving the counter to the arched area of the office and installing bullet-proof glass. The Moody County Commission would pay the remaining costs.

The Moody County Clerk of Courts office will get a remodel that includes bullet proof glass in the county’s effort to make the workplace safer.
The project isn’t under any specific timeframe at this point and is in being looked at for funding.
Moody County is in the Third Judicial Circuit, which includes 14 counties in eastern and central South Dakota. Several courthouses already have remodeled or installed special glass in their clerks’ offices, said Jenny Hammrich, circuit court administrator based in Brookings.
“We’re trying to be proactive throughout our circuit,” she told Moody County Commissioners. The commission unanimously voted to allow Hammrich to apply for grant money from the Unified Judicial System to pay for half of the estimated $9,000 it will cost to install the protective glass.
The plan to install the bullet-proof glass includes moving the transaction window to the arch area of the office, closer to the door. It would include moving the counter and installing the glass. The public would be able to talk to a clerk who is behind the glass and would use an opening to exchange paperwork and payments.
If the grant isn’t awarded, plans would be reconsidered.
Magistrate Judge Abigail Howard said when she sends people out of her courtroom, they aren’t always happy and can’t take it out on her. Their first stop typically is the Clerk of Courts office where they may share their frustrations as they pay a fine or make arrangements based on the judge’s orders.
Making the work area safer for the clerk is the right thing to do, especially since grant money may be available to pay for some of the costs, she said. “It’s the right step. It’s the right time,” she said. “Our concern for all of our USJ offices is to be proactive rather than reactive.”
Nicole Bowden is the newly appointed clerk of courts in the county, replacing Lisa Johnson, who retire March 23 after nearly 20 years in the office. The circuit is in the process of hiring a deputy clerk.
In other county business,
•The Auditor’s office will be advertising for a part-time employee to help answer phones and do some of the office work that requires fewer accounting skills. The change comes after the office advertised for a month for an assistant auditor, who would have needed higher-level payroll and accounting skills, but didn’t find a good match among the six applicants for that job.
“Nobody had experience for what we’re wanting,” said Auditor Kristina Krull.
The part-time employee would be needed for 24-hours a week, which would make them eligible for benefits, and the pay would be $14.74 an hour.
Under this plan, Krull and Human Resources administrator Tawny Heinemann would split other office duties, including payroll. If a new part-time person is hired, the commission will look at increasing pay for Krull and Heinemann.
•The commission agreed that keeping the 2016 Chevy Silverado used by the Sheriff’s Department to be used by the county employee who takes care of weeds is a good idea. The truck becomes available in the next several weeks, as soon as Sheriff Troy Wellman gets a new Suburban.
“He’s thinking he could put a four-wheeler in back and do spot spraying,” Commissioner Dan Miles said of use for weed control.
•The county is eligible for about $1.2 million from the recently approved American Rescue Plan fund, Krull said. She is waiting to see the rules for use of the money, which comes from a bill signed into law on March 11. The money is described as direct flexible aid, and the city of Flandreau is able to draw from the fund as well.
“That’s a lot of money,” Krull said.
•Commissioners approved the courthouse grounds for use on May 6 for the National Day of Prayer.

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