Those who attended last week's Courthouse to the Community event at the Gillie Community Senior Center on Morse Road had the opportunity to learn a lot about the civil and criminal justice system in Columbus and Franklin County.
For example, Judge Eileen Y. Paley spoke of a smartphone app that can help people resolve tax issues with the city without having to go to the courthouse.
About 30 representatives of various aspects of the local court system and 20 associated organizations set up at tables March 14 at the recreation center to pass out information and answer questions.
City Councilman Michael Stinziano organized the Courthouse to the Community gathering in conjunction with officials from the Department of Neighborhoods.
In doing so, he was following the actions of one of his predecessors on council, Judge Paley, who held a similar gathering at a South Side recreation center a couple of years ago.
The goal was not only to demystify the court system but also to inform people about programs associated with judicial operations.
Shortly after the announced starting time of 5:30 p.m., Stinziano welcomed the dozen or so people who had drifted into the senior center, explaining the purpose of the event and pointing out that Clerk of Courts Lori M. Tyack had supplied the popcorn machine.
"Thank her for the aroma," he said.
Carla Williams-Scott, director of the relatively new Department of Neighborhoods, also thanked those in attendance. Her department, she explained, consolidates the services to residents provided by Neighborhood Pride, the Community Relations Commission, neighborhood liaisons and the 311 customer service center.
"We try to serve and be a resource," Williams-Scott said.
"It's really important to understand what resources are out there," said Paley, the last of the introductory speakers.
She noted that twice as many representatives of programs and organizations were on hand last week as participated in the initial Courthouse to the Community event.
Among those drifting among the tables were Eman Albash and Regina Morin.
Both are caseworkers for Gladden Community House, a settlement house that was founded in 1905 and serves the Franklinton area and surrounding neighborhoods. Morin and Albash were collecting information they hope might be helpful to their clients.
"It's important to keep ahead of the resources and know what's out there," Morin said.
Emmanuel V. Remy, president of the Northland Community Council, also dropped by to observe the proceedings.
"Obviously, there's an interest," he said, noting the number of people streaming into the Gillie Center. "This is good. It's nice to see this much interest."
Terry Cornett II, an employee at the Gillie Center, said he changed out of his work clothes after his shift ended but then stuck around to see what Courthouse to the Community was all about.
"I couldn't resist the opportunity to stay and talk with these professionals," Cornett said.
Suzanne Harnichar, a retired counselor and social worker who is president of the Blendon Chase Condominium Association, said she stopped by because many of the people in her part of the Northland area are older and she tries to keep current on available services that might be of use to them.
"I know what resources are available in the community," Harnichar said. "It's interesting. There's good stuff here."