Opening once again delayed for newest Shelby County Clerk’s Office location

Published: Nov. 29, 2022 at 10:28 PM CST

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - The Oct. 31 deadline came and went to open the new clerk’s office in the southeastern part of the county. And now, it looks like the Shelby County Clerk will not make the new Dec. 1 target date, either.

At the Shelby County Clerk’s Office at Poplar Plaza where Midtown meets East Memphis, long lines and growing frustration were ever-present Tuesday afternoon.

Some customers reported waiting three hours or more to get service.

“It’s just kind of aggravating,” said customer Lilian Bird, “you think they’d have a quicker process instead of making everyone wait outside, especially with the rainy weather conditions today. It’s not ideal having to wait that long.”

The wait is especially tiresome for customers who live near the new clerk’s office location on Riverdale Road, which was originally supposed to open in March.

Instead, the building still stands vacant, and residents nearby are joining locals in line at the Poplar Plaza location.

“I heard several people in line kind of complaining or at least saying that the location was supposed to be open by now,” said customer Niccole Hayes. “So they traveled here because that location wasn’t open.”

Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris’ administration declared the Riverdale location good to go on Halloween. All that was left was work on Clerk Halbert’s end.

“It was our understanding,” CAO Harold Collins told Action News 5 at the time, “that the office should be ready to operate on or before today.”

But Shelby County Clerk Wanda Halbert told Shelby County Commissioners on the deadline that her office had a lot more work to do before the new location could open.

“We are going to immediately notify you all when we are ready,” Halbert told the commission, “or even close to being ready, and that should be no later than the end of the month, first of December.”

Clerk Halbert originally said the Riverdale location will have 13 to 15 employees, but it seems the office is still trying to fill positions.

“We are currently hiring for a host of positions, including the new facility on Riverdale,” Halbert said on Tuesday. “Our employees have to go through extensive training. We are still finalizing core services and working with our third-party vendor and the state.”

In the meantime, state lawmaker Rep. Mark White of Germantown plans to file legislation to make it easier to recall elected county leaders by only requiring one percent of registered voters instead of five to get a recall special election.

That would be 5,600 signatures in Shelby County.

“Anyone that runs for office, you have an obligation to serve the citizens of your community, or in my case, the state,” Rep. White told Action News 5, “and if you’re not doing so, then you need to turn it over to somebody else. The citizens deserve better.”

When asked about the additional delay in opening the Riverdale office, CAO Collins told Action News 5:

“Shelby County employees worked hard to get the Clerk’s new office operational. We have delivered the keys to the new office per the October 31 deadline, which was agreed upon by Clerk Halbert. We are hopeful Clerk Halbert opens the facility to the public ASAP.”

Clerk Halbert did not provide a new timeline for opening the satellite office on Riverdale Road.

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