New temporary clerk’s office opens Monday

SANDPOINT — The temporary Bonner County Clerk’s Office is slated to have a new short-term home by Monday.

Deputy clerks have been housed at the former Mountain West Bank space near the corner of East Superior Street and South First Avenue since 2011 due to the extensive remodeling under way at the Bonner County Courthouse.

A new long-term tenant is poised to fill the bank space, forcing the county to shift the temporary space to the former Department of Motor Vehicles building on First near Pine Street. The former DMV building is just north of the Bonner County’s Prosecutor’s Office.

Deputy clerks will be at the former bank space, which is next to Lone Star Mortgage, until 5 p.m. today. By the start of the business day on Monday, the deputy clerks are scheduled to be set up at the former DMV building.

But the move is not without a dose of turmoil.

The move was originally set for the three-day weekend created by the Presidents’ Day holiday, but Commissioner Mike Nielsen sought to complete the move this weekend, a week ahead of the original target date because of the incoming tenant at the old bank.

Nielsen said he was asked by clerk’s office to help oversee the move, although some clerks regard that scenario as doubtful given friction between Nielsen and Clerk Marie Scott, who is away on vacation.

At least two judges questioned the accelerated timing of the move on Thursday morning, causing the original move date to reinstated. However, deputy clerks had by then packed up so much of the office that unpacking it would have been even more burdensome.

As a result, the accelerated date was reinstated.

Some clerks contended that Nielsen was threatening and rude while addressing employees about the abrupt change of plans.

“He just wanted to be in charge,” said one of Nielsen’s critics who declined to be named.

Nielsen, however, denied the allegations and chalked up the criticism to their allegiance to Scott.

“I could give them money and they’d still hate me,” Nielsen said of his detractors.

An email message sent to Scott was not immediately returned on Thursday.

The temporary clerk’s office at the DMV is slated to remain in place until June 19, when the courthouse is slated to be complete.

There have been countless reopening dates identified during the 19-month root canal of the century-old courthouse, although Nielsen said he has been assured by the contractor that the work would be done by then.

“I believe it’s very realistic,” Nielsen said of the date.

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