By Debbie Shelton
SVP, West Wabash Avenue Branch
In the real estate business, it’s all about location. The Sangamon County Circuit Clerk knows a thing or two about location as well. Paul Palazzolo, Clerk of the Circuit Court of Sangamon County, and his staff know that while a downtown location works for most constituents, sometimes the work- week hours PLUS downtown location make it difficult to conduct business. So the staff tries to find locations and times more accommodating. As a result, INB recently hosted two “Passport Saturdays” – one at our West Wabash location and another on Dirksen Parkway.
According to Palazzolo, the circuit clerk’s office processes about 95 passports a month. “For example, we processed 112 in May, but averaged 93 for 2014. Summer months are not necessarily the busiest times for processing passports. We tend to see an upswing in applications about two to three months before the busiest travel times — Christmas time, Spring Break, summer and fall.”
Palazzolo says the passport application process is relatively easy, so taking it offsite isn’t that difficult. “The forms can be printed off the U.S. Department of State’s website. The circuit clerk’s website has a link to the site. Also, we bring all of the needed forms (to remote locations).” But because the circuit clerk advertises the events in advance and recommends that people come in with the completed paperwork, most of the customers who come to the passport events bring the correct paperwork. He adds, “There will be some individuals who will come to the passport event who are in the beginning stages of the passport acceptance process, but most people have, at least, done some initial research on the process.”
With two certified passport agents and the Circuit Clerk at each off-site location, the staff had no trouble processing 30 applicants at our Wabash location and 22 on Dirksen Parkway. That was in three hours including a donut break for staff and customers, courtesy of the Circuit Clerk himself!
Palazzolo concludes that even though his office has hosted different community outreach programs over the years, staff members still see a steady flow of passport applications and inquiries, which shows in the number of passport applications processed each month.
“We’re grateful to the team at INB for hosting our two passport outreach opportunities. Thanks to all who helped us reach our goal of increased effectiveness in the Circuit Clerk’s Office.”