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New monitor system at courthouse to aid visitiors

February 7, 2012

Saline County Circuit Clerk Dennis Milligan, left, and Saline County Judge Lanny Fite unveil a new informational television monitor inside the Saline County Courthouse on Thursday. (Courier photo by Matt Burks)

Officials have spruced up the inside of the Saline County Courthouse with a new television monitor that will help aide visitors to specific courtrooms.
Saline County Circuit Clerk Dennis Milligan said he got the idea while waiting to board an airplane and decide this could be applied for people searching for what courtroom they are suppose to be at. He said the new TV monitor, that displays pertinent information, could be a "win-win" for everyone. Milligan then got Saline County Judge Lanny Fite to jump on board, and Thursday the two unveiled the new technological aide in the main lobby of the courthouse.
"This should be very helpful. Now people can simply walk up (to the tv monitor) find what judge and what courtroom and where it is located at," Fite said. "This was a cooperative effort with the judges and the Circuit Clerk's Office."
Milligan said that "nobody goes to the airline counter" at an airport with commercial airline service "to ask what flight they are on or what gate their plane is leaving from." Instead, a person views a TV monitor that displays the arrival and departure times and other pertinent information.
"Providing this information in an easy manner saves the customers’ time because they don’t have to stand in line to get the information they want," Milligan said. "It also saves the airlines money because they don’t have to hire one or more employees to look this information up for every customer."
He said that everyday, the most frequently asked question of his staff is "Where am I supposed to be in court?" Now, people can just stop in the front lobby to get their answer, as well as view the weather forecast and other messages that scroll at the bottom of the screen.
"If someone has never been in this courthouse before, they won't know what judge is hearing the case or what courtroom the proceeding is in," Milligan said. "We will scroll the cases scheduled in the four different divisions on this monitor and provide quick answers to their questions. People coming to court – sometimes for the first time in their lives – get confused about where they need to be. My office is just trying to make their experience with the courts less confusing."
The cost of this new technological is also less than $1,000, Milligan said.
"We used an old computer system and bought the monitor at Johnston's (Home Center in Benton)," he said. "It was a very low cost to put together, but it is very valuable to be able to provide information and services to the Saline County residents. This is another step in updating technology, and this will help ensure people get the answers they need and ease their frustrations. And it's bright and cheery in a dreary courthouse."
Milligan added, "Plus, if there is an emergency, we can use this monitor as an information tool. We can program messages on this screen at any time."
Saline County is the first of the state’s 75 counties to use this idea. Milligan, though, said he expects other counties to adopt this idea.
"When you stop and think about it, this is just common sense. I predict that within two years about half the courthouses in Arkansas will be using something similar," he said. "When Judge Fite issues a burn ban, we can run that information there. When Collector Joy Ballard has a deadline for filing taxes, we can run that information there. When Assessor Jim Crawford has a deadline for assessing personal property, we can run it there. The uses are only limited by our imaginations."

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