Starting Monday, the Calcasieu Parish Clerk of Court’s Office will take on a new responsibility by accepting passport applications.
Clerk of Court Lynn Jones said the U.S. Department of State emailed him about two months ago, asking if he would consider using his office as a location provider for passports.
Passports used to be issued at the Post Office on Moss Street, where he said about 3,000 were provided each year.
“A city our size has never been without a passport provider location,” Jones said.
He said several staff workers were trained to handle the passport application process, and the office received expedited approval from the State Department. The office will accept passport applications 8:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Monday-Friday, a schedule that Jones said is tentative.
“The training was pretty intensive,” he said. “Normally, when they have to provide training, it’s been facilities that have been up and running for a long time. They very rarely have somebody start from scratch. So we want to ask for patience.”
For the first week of work, Jones said the staff will use a hotline provided by the State Department to assist in processing the passports.
People can also apply for passports at the Bell City Post Office, at 7206 B St.
Jones said the office early next year could begin handling birth certificates, a task the state Center for Records and Statistics asked it to consider around the same time as the passports.
Birth certificates were provided by the Calcasieu Parish Health Unit on Kirkman Street, but the Center for Records and Statistics had to stop that service because of state budget cuts.
Jones said 75 to 150 people are expected to visit the office each day to get a birth certificate. Because of this, he said he is remodeling the office to provide a waiting room to accommodate more people.
“We did not realize the numbers were going to be as high,” Jones said.
He said the staff has not yet been trained to process the birth certificates. He said the office will also handle other vital records, like marriage licenses.
Jones said the office will not immediately issue death certificates, but could once staff has had enough time to process the birth certificates.