Passport business soars at Westmoreland courthouse
The passport business is booming at the Westmoreland County Courthouse, so evening hours now will be available one day a week.
And staffers will be going mobile to help Steelers get passports while they are at training camp and to accommodate members of the public later this year.
Prothonotary Christina O'Brien said that office will remain open until 6 p.m. every Thursday, starting next week.
Passport processing will remain available during regular business hours, from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekdays.
“We'll see if there is a demand. If so, we'll expand our hours on an additional day,” O'Brien said Thursday.
In 2008, the office issued 30 passports. There were 217 passports processed last year.
During the first five months of 2013, O'Brien said, the office processed 210 passport applications.
Passports can be processed through selected U.S. Post Offices. Unlike the post office, the Prothonotary's Office does not require appointments.
The extended hours will enable more people to get passports at the courthouse in Greensburg, according to O'Brien.
“We're allowing people who work and go to school to acquire their passports without missing work or school,” O'Brien said.
Tad Kelley, spokesman for the U.S. Postal Service, said a change in federal law that requires passports for all international travel has in the past created backlogs for the postal service in processing applications.
The Postal Service processed about 142,000 passports in Western Pennsylvania last year, Kelley said.
“It's gone up about 20 (percent) to 25 percent over the last couple of years,” Kelley said.
To accommodate the additional business, a separate room has been cordoned off in the prothonotary's office for passport processing and to take photographs for those documents.
O'Brien said seven clerks in her office, about a third of the entire staff, can process passport applications.
O'Brien said the Pittsburgh Steelers contacted her office this week to process passport applications for players and team personnel.
The team will play the Minnesota Vikings at Wembley Stadium in London on Sept. 29.
O'Brien said two office employees will go to training camp at St. Vincent College near Latrobe next month to handle the paperwork for the team.
Additional mobile passport fairs are planned later this year for the public.
“In the fall, we'll go out in the county to colleges to offer passports for students and the public,” O'Brien said.
Other offices at the courthouse have extended hours.
The Register of Wills remains open Tuesday evenings until 6:30 p.m. to process marriage licenses. It is open for business every weekday from 8:15 a.m. until 4:15 p.m.
The research room at the Recorder of Deeds Office is open from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Sheriff Jonathan Held keeps staff on duty one day a month, until 8 p.m., to process gun permits in the lobby of the courthouse.
The county's law library remains open until 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays.
O'Brien said the Prothonotary's Office this week started accepting credit cards for payment of court filing fees.
Card users will be charged a 2.75 percent service fee for civil and family court documents filed in her office.
“There will be zero cost to the county,” O'Brien said.
O'Brien, a Democrat, is running this fall for a second term in office. Republican challenger Mike Powers in the spring primary race criticized her for not extending office hours or accepting credit card payments.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Hours to be reduced at Ruffsdale post office
- Audit: Westmoreland records were at risk in transfer to computer system
- Ex-worker admits to taking money from Penn Township Sewage Authority