Friday, February 25, 2011

Still Getting Up to Speed...

Part of what I enjoy most about my new job as County Commissioner is the high learning curve.  It's been interesting to meet with the various departments and service providers in an effort to learn about the work they do.  My overall goal is to meet with every department head and staff.  This past month, I was able to connect with a few more!

Crime Victim/Witness Services
Just off of the County Attorney's Office is the Crime Victim/Witness Services office for Cook County.  When I poked my head inside the door, I was greeted by Coordinator Susan Maijala and given an overview of the services she provides.  Established in 2004, the Crime Victim/Witness Services program was created to assist victims with the physical, emotional and financial hardships caused by criminal victimization.  Examples of general crimes include theft, forgery, robbery, non-domestic assault, harassment, terroristic threats, vandalism, burglary, homicide and arson.  If you or someone you know has been a victim of a crime and needs help, call 218/387-3669.

Veteran's Services Officer
County Veteran's Service Officers (VSO) were established in 1946 to assist veterans and their families in obtaining benefits and services accrued through military service.  If you are a veteran, widow of a veteran, child of a deceased or disabled veteran, or parent who lost a son or daughter in military service, your County VSO can assist you by providing information on a wide range of topics including benefits, education, insurance, health care, home loans, other.  Veterans can rely on their VSO to either advocate for them or refer them to somebody who can.  Clarence Everson is the VSO for both Grand Portage and Cook County.  With a big smile on his face, he told me he loves his job, so don't be shy about calling him at 218 475 2780 or 218 370 0646.  Everson's email is

Recorder's Office
Last week I had a tour of the Cook County Recorder's Office.  County Recorder Dusty Nelms showed me the front office and then showed me around the backroom where they still put to good use several beautiful old wood tables, chairs and work tables.  The mission of the Recorder's Office is simple and clear:

"To promptly record, file and preserve documents accurately in an efficient, responsible and professional manner for posterity and legal purposes.  The County Recorder in Cook County is the custodian of all legal records pertaining to real estate, birth, death, marriage, military discharges, notary public, Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) and tax liens.  This office also serves as a Passport Agent for the U.S. Department of State Passport Services.   All records pertaining to real estate are public records and may be viewed upon request.  Upon receipt of payment, the Recorder can process requests for copies of documents or certified copies of vital records.  We handle some research requests or can assist you with your research."

The documents meticulously and carefully maintained in the Recorder's Office tell so much of the story about the people of Cook County.  It not only provides an important legal purpose, but is an interesting place to dig into local history.