Courthouse doors reopen in Stafford County

Gale Rose

The Stafford County Courthouse opened its doors for the first time in weeks on Monday, May 18. Each department has a sign-in sheet to keep track of who was in the building and what office they visited, said Stafford County Clerk Nita Keenan.

“We’re basically open for business,” Keenan said. “It’s working real good so far. I haven’t heard any complaints.”

Other restrictions are in place to assure social distancing. In the treasurers office, only three people are allowed in at one time. The Register of Deeds office is only accessible by appointment for those needing to do research. Anyone needing to file a document does not need an appointment, Keenan said.

Common sense health safety practices are still in place and everything is cleaned regularly.

Getting the courthouse open has made operations easier. Prior to reopening, all business was done at the front door. A person could call in or just come to the front door and ring the bell. A staff member from the necessary department would come to the front door and conduct whatever business needed to be done without the person every coming into the building. This setup was effective for handling county business.

“It worked well for our county,” Keenan said.

While things are moving forward for county departments, the operations of the district court still have a ways to go before things start flowing again.

Clerk of the District Court Renee Salem said they are looking at getting things going again starting in June but nothing has been scheduled for the month of May. A lot of electronic filing has been done in preparation to get cases working again. A lot of cases had to be continued because of restrictions.

“We’re slowly getting back into the groove of things,” Salem said. “It’s going to take a while to get things back up and going.”

In preparation for getting cases back in the courthouse, social distancing has been marked and safety guidelines will be followed. There are x’s in the courtroom and in the hallway. It’s a big courtroom and that will help with social distancing.

Signs are in place that remind people to use common sense and maintain social distancing, Salem said.

The court system continues to follow the governors guidelines as the state continues to reopen. Courts also have to follow Kansas Supreme Court guidelines for operations.

County commissioners have the final say on the opening or closing of the courthouse.