Register of Deeds office opens in Niles

Published 10:08 am Friday, December 16, 2005

By Staff
NILES - Lori D. Jarvis, Berrien County Register of Deeds, announced there would be a Register of Deeds office located in the South County Building in Niles, effective Dec. 30. An Open House will be held Thursday, Dec. 29, from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.
The county spent 18 months getting bids from various vendors for an integrated land records management system and then interviewing those who met the county needs. “This was a collaborative effort with the county's Information Systems department headed by Ken Hoffman. Ken and his staff were involved from the writing of the proposal to interviewing the vendors right along side of us. We knew what we were looking for in a system, and IS helped us to make sure it was compatible with the county's infrastructure. We couldn't have done it without them,” Jarvis said.
In November 2004, the county purchased a new land records management system. The system allows the county to index and verify documents more quickly and from a computerized image. They are also able to index and link associated documents. One of the most convenient features is the additional search criterion which can be searched more readily and in more detail than the old system, Jarvis added.
Without the new land records software, the county could not have made this move to opening a satellite Register of Deeds office. “While we anticipate a steady flow of customers, we needed to be able to keep a staff person productive and effective when not helping customers. We could also not be shuffling paper around between Niles and St. Joseph,” she said. Jarvis has assigned a full-time; 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, staff person to this office.
Until the opening of this office, people needing assistance in finding their land documents have been assisted by Kelly White who works for Louise Stine, County Clerk, said Jarvis. “Kelly was wonderful, always patient and accommodating to all the people who came in for information regarding their deed, or mortgage, or whatever, but she has her hands full with her clerk duties. It really was above-and-beyond for her, with Louise's support, to step up and clerk for our office as well,” stated Jarvis.
William Wolf, County Administrator, stated, “This is a recognizable commitment that the county has made to providing convenient access to county services for the citizens of southern Berrien County. I'm excited by this opportunity to better serve all of our citizens.”
With budgets incredibly tight and general fund dollars at a premium, the opening of this office would not have been possible without increased technology. The establishment of this office was provided for out of special funding which provides monies dedicated to increasing Register of Deeds search capabilities and internet access. In addition, no new staff has been hired, only relocated from the Register of Deeds office in the Administration Center to the South County Building.