The Camden County Courthouse is looking at plans to adopt a county court system into the daily docket to help enforce local ordinances. Due to the struggles the county has with taking on so many ordinance cases with a full load of other cases, Presiding Commissioner Greg Hasty says this is a necessary step for the county.

The Camden County Courthouse is looking at plans to adopt a county court system into the daily docket to help enforce local ordinances. Due to the struggles the county has with taking on so many ordinance cases with a full load of other cases, Presiding Commissioner Greg Hasty says this is a necessary step for the county.

Hasty says this process would be a benefit to the county and end up saving money. Because current ordinance enforcement normally comes down to a litigation action with hefty costs, enforcing these through a county court would speed up the process and help to sort through the many ordinance violations seen throughout the county.

In order to staff this court, Hasty says they plan to move around existing staff with a possibility of new responsibilities in regards to county court cases. He says this will have a “net zero cost” to the county instead of using funds to hire brand new personnel.

“We are trying to kill two birds with one stone by doing this,” Hasty said.

Hasty hopes to hire a local level attorney and use current circuit judges in the courtroom. He says they have spoken with Judge Hamner and Judge Gilley about this idea and both have responded by saying they would “provide room and their calendars.” Judge Gilley says the courts are ready to take on ordinance issues and take care of them appropriately as they arrive.

One of the main focuses of the county is to tighten laws on animal control and help the sheriff’s department to manage the violations. Sheriff Tony Helms says this is an issue he has been fighting ever since taking office. He knows that many areas of local ordinance need help, but animal control seems to be in a rough state comparatively.

Helms has built a list of ordinances that he wishes to put into law once the court has become a reality. These include chipping animals, creating a small fee for having local animal control hold onto an escaped pet and the creation of a new county animal shelter. These ordinances are based on local laws mirroring surrounding counties.

A major hurdle in this field would be to work with the health department so that sheltering animals would follow guidelines, including disease control and rabies. Even so, Helms believes community members would be behind these ordinances and help get them enacted.

In regards to local ordinances as a whole, Helms sees the current state or ordinance enforcement as weak. He says that without having any true power behind enforcement, many people don’t care to follow these laws. He says a warning won’t stop people from breaking these ordinances over and over again.

“This county can’t have laws without teeth,” Helms said.

Helms is ready to work with county commission and any other acting parties to make this county court a reality. Hasty says the state of local ordinance enforcement is boxed in place with the current rules and litigation procedures. He is hoping to cut down on these issues soon.