You walk into the courthouse, look around and realize you have no idea where to go.
What do you do and whom do you ask? You might have to walk around, searching for someone to ask or go to the clerk’s office to inquire.
In one local courthouse, this process will soon be much easier. The Portage County Courthouse, home to the common pleas, domestic relations and probate divisions, soon will have a large monitor that visitors can use at the courthouse’s entrance to look up where they need to go. Three other monitors will be available on each floor of the courthouse, displaying the dockets for each courtroom.
The monitors are among several improvements planned for the Portage courthouse thanks to $441,221 the county recently was awarded in technology grants from the Ohio Supreme Court. Portage County received more grants — seven — and a higher dollar amount than any other county in Ohio.
“We were very fortunate,” Portage County Domestic Relations Court Judge Paula Giulitto said. “This shows what working together can accomplish.”
Portage was one of five courts in the Akron area chosen to get a cut of $2.5 million in the Ohio Supreme Court’s second round of technology grants. Courts will use the money for security improvements, website upgrades and, like Portage, self-service kiosks — a new addition to the often daunting and confusing older courthouses around Ohio. The state court awarded funding to 110 projects in 69 courts.
“The projects selected will enable local courts to administer justice fairly and securely and to improve access to justice for more Ohioans,” Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor, a Green native, said in a recent news release.
The funds for the Portage courthouse, located at 203 W. Main St. in Ravenna, will go toward a variety of projects, some that will be visible to those who visit the courthouse and others that are more behind the scenes. The improvements include: an upgrade to the case-management system, a new microfilm scanner, an e-citation filing system that will enable police officers to file directly with the clerk’s office, a higher definition X-ray scanning unit and a computer terminal in domestic relations court to calculate child support, Giulitto said
Giulitto said the grant applications were a joint effort of elected officials with the court, court staff and the county commissioners.
The parts for the improvements have been ordered but are not yet in. The projects must be completed by Sept. 1.
The other local courts awarded state funds were:
•?Barberton Municipal Court, $41,020 for security equipment.
•?Ninth District Court of Appeals (in the Oliver Ocasek Building in downtown Akron), $5,969 to upgrade network infrastructure.
•?Stark County Probate Court, $11,593 for a security camera system.
•?Summit County Common Pleas Court, $30,980 for an upgrade to network infrastructure.
Stephanie Warsmith can be reached at 330-996-3705, firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter: @swarsmithabj.