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Friday, October 24, 2014
Canajoharie, NY ,

Joshua Thomas
From left, Town Justice Frank J. Alford, Court Clerk Loralee Whitlock, and Town Justice Susan C. Buddles with the $30,000 grant awarded to Minden Town Court by JCAP.

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Minden Town Court receives $30,000 grant

Wednesday, March 19, 2014 - Updated: 9:52 AM

By JOSHUA THOMAS

C-S-E Editor

MINDEN -- The Minden Town Court was recently issued a $30,000 Judicial Court Assistance Program grant, which will fund necessary improvements and upgrades in the court, one of the busiest in Montgomery County.

Currently, Town Justices Frank J. Alford and Susan Buddles, along with newly appointed Court Clerk Loralee Whitlock, are in the process of compiling a list of needed items and improvements.

"We can spend it basically anyway we want within logical limits," said Alford of the 100 percent grant, which is currently in the court's possession, and must be spent by October, 2014.

High on that list is the installation of an exterior security system, which will place cameras, with sound, at the building's entry points. The interior security system may also receive upgrades. While the installation of the security system will benefit town officials as well as court officials, such a system is absolutely necessary for Justice Alford, as he frequently makes middle-of-the-night arraignments.

"Safety wise, it's something that has been needed for a long time," said Buddles.

A wheelchair lift for the new, 21-inch-high judge's bench will also be installed to comply with the Americans With Disabilities act.

The town court will also install a legal library, which hadn't been updated for years before being destroyed entirely during last year's flood. Right now, the court has access to law books and legal decisions online, though Buddles said, "it's so much quicker and easier to have the law book on the bench there with you, to pull out and check your reference."

The court will also purchase books they never had before, including ones detailing transportation and ag and markets laws, as the span of the cases tried in Minden has rapidly expanded over the last few years.

"The court has changed -- the cases have changed so much in the last few years," said Buddles, noting that in the past six years, she's seen the court take on ag and markets cases (which are sometimes illegal kennel or dog control related), along with more transportation cases than ever, criminal and civil cases.

"I've been here six years, and I'd say the workload has doubled since I started," Buddles explained, as the court receives cases from the Fort Plain Village Police, Montgomery County Sheriff's Department, NYS Police Department, and NYS Thruway-based troopers.

"I don't think a lot of people realize how busy the court is," Buddles continued, explaining that on the court's monthly ADA night, they oversee 130-140 cases, along with the 20-30 tried by Buddles and Alford during the court's four additional monthly dates.

Currently, the Minden Town Court's ADA night tries a number of cases secondary only to Amsterdam. Buddles and Alford both attributed the rise in work to proactive, efficient law enforcement.

Alford stated of the court's busy schedule, "I'm just starting my second year, and it's a lot more than I thought it was going to be."

"Both Frank and I take a lot of work home," continued Buddles, explaining that to remain on the bench, both justices have to qualify each year with 12 hours of tested course work.

     

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