The New London/Weyauwega Joint Municipal Court has officially moved into their new office next to the courtroom, in the front of city hall.
According to Municipal Judge Laurie Shaw, moving the court’s office to the north entrance will improve the flow for residents using their services.
“Before there was some confusion because the office was located on the opposite end of the building as the courtroom,” said Shaw. “Now everything is conveniently located together and court services are separated from other offices at city hall.”
Shaw officially signed an oath of office May 1st. She takes the bench for the first time Thursday, May 15.
Judge Shaw’s staff includes Clerk of Courts Ashley Sweedy, Deputy Clerk of Courts Tracy Hoffman and Pat O’ Brien who serves as community service coordinator. All four will share the new office space at the front of city hall.
Previously they were split up into areas in the back where they shared a service window with the parks and recreation administrative assistant. This often led to confusion for defendants seeking to talk to a court staff.
“We had a very nice lady at the window who had nothing to do with the court but would often get the flack from the defendant saying, ‘well you’re here, your windows open’,” explained Sweedy. “Moving the court office into its own area has helped clear up a lot of confusion.”
“Now all the court staff is in one room with one window,” said Sweedy. “It’s more obvious who we are, and when we’re here.”
The clerk’s office hours were also changed to include one day in the morning, and one day in the afternoon, to make it easier for defendants who work.
“We wanted to make our hours flush with city hall so at least one day we are opening with them in the morning, and one day we are closing with them in the afternoon,” explained Sweedy.
New hours are Tuesdays from 8 a.m.-1:30 p.m. and Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Previous hours were 9 a.m. to 2p.m
Another change they made was to combine two initial court appearances per month into one.
“Typically we have 65 to 125 citations per initial court appearance, but literally out of that amount of people, only a handful show up,” reports Sweedy. “Based on those statistics we combined it down to one initial appearance.”
“Our goals are efficiency, organization, and making better use of the defendant’s time, the lawyer’s time, and the court staff’s time,” she said.
Starting May 28, court will be held on the second and last Wednesday.
Judge Shaw reports that the court continues to review all policies, procedures and processes in hopes of increasing efficiencies over the next several months.
Building Inspection office moves to West entrance
As part of the court move, the Building inspector’s office relocated to the west end of city hall, into the former Parks and Recreation administration office. Citizens looking for the Building Inspection office will enter the West door and approach the window on the right. Public works, cable access, and parks and recreation will use the same entrance and left hand window as always.
Director of Parks and Recreation, Chad Hoerth said, “For the public, the only difference will be which direction our Administrative Assistant Janet Searl turns at the window, otherwise everything is the same as far as Parks and Recreation.”
Outside city hall new signage directs residents to the appropriate offices.
Internally, Hoerth and his Recreation Coordinator Ginger Arndt now occupy parts of the old court office and a neighboring conference room on the west end of city hall.
“The public is still going to use the same window and same phone number for the Parks and Recreation office,” said Hoerth. “The biggest change is for the building inspection and court offices.”
“Previously the court staff really didn’t have much of a home,” Hoerth said. “They were kind of spread out over a couple different areas, so this was an opportunity to give them a defined area close to the council chambers.”
The move came just in time for maximizing work force of his building and grounds crew. “We were able to help them complete the move before our guys got really busy with their outside work,” said Hoerth.