OKANOGAN The Okanogan County Superior Court staff has been restructured in light of an upcoming retirement.
Court administrator Al Rendon, who has worked for the Superior Court for more than 20 years, will retire July 16. That spurred judges Christopher Culp and Henry Rawson to approach county commissioners earlier last week with plans to reorganize their department.
Rendon has worked 14 of those 20 years as the court administrator, Culp said.
“We‘re losing someone who has a wealth of knowledge and has played a vital role in what the court does and how it operates,” he said.
“The biggest reason, I think, was that they wanted to cross train and move the court facilitator that was in a very small office over in the juvenile department building… so they were wanting to combine that so it was all together and working a little bit better with everyone working in one area,” Commissioner Sheilah Kennedy said.
Culp verified Kennedy’s statement.
“They will all be cross-trained to fulfill the duties of each other, and the reason for that is because in the past if someone was sick or on vacation, there was no one really to take their place,” he said.
“This is a set-up that’s better capable of meeting the needs of the public in terms of the court’s responsibilities.”
Juvenile Services Director Dennis Rabidou has been appointed to oversee the department as of May 1, serving alongside Rendon until his retirement, according to the resolution approved on May 21.
His duties, in addition to those as juvenile services director, will be to oversee personnel and the Superior Court budget and serve as a liaison to the state, Culp said.
Kennedy said that change will not come with a pay raise, though Rabidou did receive a percent increase to his salary in January as the juvenile services director.
Meanwhile, three judicial assistant positions have been created, all equal to each other.
They have been filled as of May 20 by former family court facilitator Susan Speiker and former assistant court administrator Mary Horner, both with the Superior Court; as well as former Okanogan County District Court legal process assistant Leah Brown.
One of Rendon’s responsibilities, court scheduler, will be taken on by one of the judicial assistants.
Another will become the court facilitator and the third will be the bailiff, Culp said.
“It’s just a better system.”
All the judicial assistants have been moved into the courthouse and will be supervised day-to-day by the presiding judge.
The reorganization will not affect the Superior Court budget, he said.
“This does not cost the county any more money. It wasn’t as if the commissioners authorized a new position or new money for the Superior Court,” he said.
Rendon and Rabidou could not be reached for comment before press time.