Long lines lead to frustration at Morgan County Courthouse

Long lines lead to frustration at Morgan County Courthouse
More than 20 people line up outside the second floor of the Morgan County Courthouse on Tuesday morning waiting to do business with the license commissioner’s office (Source: Michael Wetzel / Decatur Daily)

DECATUR, Ala. (WAFF) - The line has been out the door at the Morgan County Courthouse recently. License Commissioner Sharon Maxwell tells the Decatur Daily that her office expected a surge in customers when the courthouse reopened, but this has been unprecedented. “I’ve never seen this amount of people even under normal circumstances (needing services),” she said. “It is usually busy on Mondays and Fridays this time of year, but now it is busy every day.”

The number of people allowed inside the courthouse is limited, leaving many to line up outside.

“It’s miserable out here,” Debra Acosta of Decatur said while standing outside Tuesday afternoon. “I was here this morning but left because the line was so long. I’m back now, and I have waited at least 1½ hours.” Joel Martinez says he waited more than an hour to renew two tags. “It’s hot and humid out here. I’m sure there is a better way than this,”

Jody Lewellen, the sales manager at Lynn Layton Chevrolet, says sales have been booming this spring, and registering those new cars is likely part of the problem. “A lot of people are home from work with nothing else to do because of the pandemic,” he said. “April and May were really good for the car business. Our inventory now is at an all-time low because of demand, and General Motors assembly plants were shut down for a couple of months.”

The office reopened May 4th, but the lines haven’t settled down. Reopening satellite officers on June 1st may also be playing a role Maxwell says that took four employees out of the courthouse and put them in Lacey’s Spring and Hartselle. On top of that, courthouse security is not set up to assist. The Lacey’s Spring office closed after a worker tested positive for COVID. “I ask those standing in line to be patient with us,” Maxwell said. “We’re doing the best we can.”

The County Commission approved the hiring of two new temporary employees earlier this week to help out. They’re expected to start next week.

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