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Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Nobody's home in SE Minnesota court offices

If you’re in southeastern Minnesota, and you’ve got business at the Winona County Courthouse this (Wednesday) morning….you might as well crawl back under the covers for a few hours.

Starting today, both the phones and the counters at the courthouse will sit unmanned every Wednesday between 8:00 a.m. and 12:30 p.m., a consequence of budget cuts in the Third Judicial District. In fact, thanks to a projected $300,000 budget shortfall, hours will be reduced in all 11 counties of that district.

The morning closings will affect Freeborn and Houston counties on Tuesdays; Winona, Mower and Olmsted counties on Wednesdays; Fillmore, Steele, and Waseca counties on Thursdays; and Dodge and Rice counties on Fridays.

Only access to court administration services will be reduced -- court hearings and trials will go on as scheduled.

Courts have come up with a number of creative ways to deal with budget deficits, such as Hennepin County’s self-help centers. But it’s a shame when the budget blues impact the accessibility of basic court services.

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