• 73°

Franklin County Courthouse reopens May 19

After closing the Franklin County Courthouse doors at the end of March in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Franklin County Commission voted to reopen the courthouse beginning May 19.

The courthouse will open this week with normal hours for a four-day week before two additional four-day weeks because of federal holidays.

“We appreciate citizens being patient with us during this time, and we ask them to continue being patient with us as we work to find a solution,” said Probate Judge Barry Moore.

Moore said there will be lines on the right-hand side of the courthouse down the sidewalk for people waiting in line to enter the building. Police officers will direct people which line to enter for a specific office. A bench and chairs will be available for those who needs them.

Moore predicted the busiest areas will most likely be for tag renewal and driver’s license renewal.

“We still have a lot of things we are getting worked out,” Moore said. “We know a lot of courthouses have reopened and then had to completely change how they were doing things. I am sure once we reopen, we will have to change a few things.”

The number of customers in each office will be limited to ensure social distancing.

For the probate office, three customers will be allowed at the main counter, and four customers will be permitted in the records room.

For the tag office, three customers will be allowed at the counter for renewals and new registration, and two will be allowed to be in waiting for title transactions by appointment.

There will be two customers allowed at the counter at the property tax office, and two customers will be allowed inside the Red Bay tag office.

The circuit clerk’s office is not processing passports at this time.

Franklin County revenue commissioner Veronica Copeland Stancil said her office is lacking 2,500 renewals on tags from the months of March and April. She said she estimates there are around three days’ worth of titles to be renewed. These renewals will be set up on an appointment basis.

Copeland Stancil said there are also 191 delinquencies on property taxes, but those are likely because of people not wanting to be charged the percent fee on large amounts for using a card over the phone.

“We have just been really busy in my office,” Copeland Stancil said. “We have a lot of stuff to do, but we are pushing through.”

The courthouse has been equipped with clear barriers in the probate office, tag office, property tax office, circuit clerk’s Office and Red Bay tag office to aid in the prevention of germ transmission.

The commission is asking that visitors inside the courthouse be limited to only those who are necessary to make a transaction and that social distancing be observed at all times. Masks are encouraged, and hand sanitizer will be available throughout the courthouse.

x