Greenup County Clerk Pat Hieneman hasn't chosen a word or two for residents to remember when they go to the courthouse.
If she ever does, persistence and patience might work.
Like the county and circuit court clerks in all 120 Kentucky counties, Hieneman is adjusting to post-coronavirus ways of doing business. Each has different office hours and varying procedures for conducting business.
“Most people are very understanding, and that's a good thing,” Hieneman said.
Greenup County has resumed its normal 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekday hours at the main office in Greenup, but the South Shore and Flatwoods branches are closed.
“I don't look for my branch offices to be open until probably July 1,” Hieneman said. “I have no law enforcement to control anything like they do here at the (Greenup) courthouse.”
Hieneman said it's best for customers to mail paperwork. Calling the office (606-473-7394) and emailing at greenupcountyclerk.com are options, but going to the second-floor office is not.
“We don't have our Plexiglass,” Hieneman said. “That's been ordered from the very beginning, so when those screens come, we’ll be able to put those up before we open again. … We have to do social distancing in here, so I have my employees 6 feet apart, so three is all I can have on the front line.”
Which means, conducting in-person transactions is like running an Olympic 400-meter relay.
A customer has to hand the paperwork to a sheriff's deputy stationed at the door. Clerks pick up the documents at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. each day and either return them to the front door the same day or mail them the following day.
Elliott County clerk Jennifer Carter runs a comparative 50-yard dash from her first-floor office in Sandy Hook. Customers deposit paperwork in a drop box, pay for it with a credit or debit card and receive the completed product in the mail.
Interim Boyd County Clerk Susan Campbell, meanwhile, wishes she could process something herself.
The 22 employees who work at offices in Catlettsburg, Ashland and Kyova Mall in Cannonsburg, which remain closed to the public, have no problems doing their jobs. Campbell's conundrum: because she took office in April, a state-mandated travel ban prevents anybody from Frankfort coming to Boyd County to connect her to the state system.
“I'm still at a disadvantage,” Campbell said.
Boyd County's offices are open weekdays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., but not to the general public. Customers may deposit paperwork in drop boxes, and processed forms will be mailed. (Campbell anticipates being open until 4:30 p.m. next week, but still closed for in-person business.)
When customers are finally allowed inside, there will be some changes. Among the proposals: serving only one customer in the office at a time; no inside waiting areas; staying in the car until called to conduct business; mandatory masks and gloves for customers.
Circuit Court clerks, meanwhile, have different challenges.
“We're resetting all court dates unless it's an emergency situation … juveniles, domestic violence, things like that,” Greenup County Circuit Clerk Allen Reed said. “Traffic court and things like that's pretty much been reset until June 1.”
Reed said arraignments for felony charges — rape, murder, assault, armed robbery — are handled via teleconference.
“There are still some things happening,” Reed said. “I won't say all court is closed. It's impossible to close it all down.”
Rowan County Circuit Clerk Kim Barker Tabor said jury trials are postponed until Aug. 1 at the earliest; she said grand juries may convene June 1.
Voters have until May 26 to register for the June 23 primary election; after that, June 1 is scheduled to be a momentous day because counties can issue drivers licenses. Elliott County deputy circuit clerk Tammy Fannin June 2 is the first day for license tests (they are given only on Tuesdays), and she thinks about the potential avalanche of teenagers wanting to get behind the wheel.
“I sure do dread when the children come to get their driver’s licenses,” Fannin said. “We've got a lot of broken-hearted children in this county.”