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PARADISE — The Butte County Superior Court told the public June 1 that Paradise courthouse counter services might close, and all they”ve heard is crickets so far.

Closure of the services offered at 747 Elliott Road is not guaranteed and comments can still be submitted to the Superior Court by June 22, said Kimberly Flener, court executive officer.

Once that date passes, comments will be brought before the board of judges for the final decision, she said.

If they choose to close it, a 60-day announcement period begins, making the earliest possible date of closure Sept. 1.

If the counter closes, the three employees working there will transfer to either the Oroville courthouse or the Chico courthouse, along with the small claims, fee payment and unlawful detainer services it provides, Flener said.

No judge works in the Paradise Courthouse, with the last time the site held court being 2009.

This transfer would be another step toward completing the North Butte County Courthouse project, which will see Chico and Paradise services merged in a new five-courtroom complex in the area of West 20th Street and Bruce Road in Chico. The project is slated to finish by spring 2014.

The main reason for proposing the closure is staffing concerns, Flener said. Only 12-15 cases a day on average are handled during the counter”s already shortened hours.

As the Superior Court deals with budget cuts, a hiring freeze and staff loss from retirement, the court must look to use resources as efficiently as possible to continue avoiding layoffs, she said, emphasizing the increasing workload for every staff member.

“The work doesn”t stop,” Flener said.

Smaller services offered can be handled online or on the phone. Larger services more than likely would currently send people to Chico or Oroville anyway, she said.

The courthouse building would continue to be occupied after the closure, possibly being used for mock trials, holding long-term trials or training purposes.

The county, not the Superior Court, owns the building.

Staff intern Anthony Siino can be reached at 896-7767 or asiino@chicoer.com.

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