City & County

Courthouse office gets option to work remotely in event of disaster

By Joel Phelps
The Arkadelphian

With the Covid-19 pandemic effectively bringing most operations around the world to a halt — combined with a round of icy weather — it’s a given popular opinion that 2020 was a year we’d all like to soon forget.

But despite the global shutdowns and closures, some folks still showed up to work, punched the clock and did their job. These essential employees kept the nation’s economy and infrastructure going when many quarantined themselves at home.

From left, deputy clerk Jennifer Story, Circuit Clerk Brian Daniel and chief deputy clerk Jennifer Finley explore the options of a newly unboxed laptop at the Clark County Courthouse. Photo by Joel Phelps/The Arkadelphian

As essential employees, the Clark County Circuit Clerk’s Office had no choice but to work. In the event of another pandemic, snow-mageddon or other unforeseeable event, the deputy clerks will now have the capability to keep the county’s and court’s infrastructure going.

Using funds from recordings and filings and as part of his disaster recovery plan, Circuit Clerk Brian Daniel recently acquired five laptop computers which he and his deputy clerks can check out and take home to work remotely. The county implemented its disaster recovery plan following the March 1, 1997, tornado that left the courthouse crippled. Each office within the courthouse has its own recovery plan that works in conjunction with the county’s main plan.

The laptops are in line with Daniel’s recovery plan, and the funds come not from taxpayers but from money generated within the circuit clerk’s office, such as filing fees, subscription services and copying fees. “With these laptops, we’ll never have to miss a beat,” Daniel said. “Any location can be used as an alternate location. The purpose is so this office will never have to cease to function for any reason.”

State law mandates how the circuit clerk’s office uses the fees generated within that office: a certain percentage of that money must be spent according to the law, and technology falls within those perimeters, Daniel explained.

Every deputy clerk may not necessarily have access to high-speed internet, but Daniel noted that “the internet situation is far better than it used to be,” with the Clark County Courthouse now using fiber optics rather than cable and the clerks having the ability to use their cell phones as a WiFi hotspot. 

At the onset of Covid-19 but before social distancing was the norm, Daniel said his office modified its work schedule in order to reduce contact between deputy clerks. And when the blizzard effectively kept most people shut inside their homes, the circuit clerk’s office was down for a week. With the laptops, Daniel hopes he and his deputies will be able to maintain its typical workload regardless of the circumstances.

“Me being a No. 2 pencil and straight-ruler kind of guy, I know nothing is infallible, but we’ll be in a lot better shape than we’ve been in the past,” Daniel said.

He said the decision to purchase laptops came after reviewing his budget. “Looking back on 2020 and reviewing the disaster recovery plan, the more the laptops made sense to me,” he said. “It’s an investment for the circuit clerk’s office, and it’s long-term as far as benefitting this office so it can continue to provide to the community and court system.”

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