Yesterday was a great experience for us at the Furnas county courthouse. I was surprised when we pulled into town at the...well...lack of town. The town sign on the highway states 641 residents if I remember correctly, but from the highway there doesn't seem to be much of a town for a county seat. Preconceived ideas about what should and shouldn't be jumped right in my face.
After passing through town, we turned around and saw the sign pointing to the business district. As we drove into town, the brick streets rumble along under us, and remind me of Omaha in the early 50's when I lived there. While the town appears much like any other small Nebraska town, being the county seat adds something. There is more traffic, not a lot, but more than most other towns it's size. We quickly found the courthouse, a vacant parking spot along the street, and headed in.
The very first office we came to was the sheriff's office. This was a required stop for someone wishing to license an out of state vehicle so the vehicle identification number could be verified. We handed our keys to a deputy, and were directed into the sheriff's administration office to fill out the necessary paperwork. The deputy returned with our keys before we could finish filling out the forms, we paid our fees, took our paperwork, and headed for the drivers license testing office.
The drivers license testing office is open only on Thursday, so it was a pretty busy place. There was someone in front of us when we walked in, but the gal administering tests got us started filling out the necessary forms (again), we took our eye test, registered to vote, and were pointed toward the clerks office for photo and fee payment. This entire process took less than 10 minutes.
The Furnas county clerks office seemed to be the hub of activity for the whole building. The ladies working in the office were as professional, friendly, and courteous as anyone could be. Our only complaint would be that the drivers license picture taker seems to have a knack for taking the most unflattering pictures. When it came time for license plates, we were given a list of numbers to pick from, and I picked a plate number I'm sure I'll be able to remember. I've never gotten to pick my license number before, and I LIKE IT!
We filled out forms (again), paid our fees, got our pictures, made a stop in the treasurers office for a copy of the property tax bill for 2007, visited with Noel in the county extension office about weed control, and were on our way in less than 2 hours. Had we been in our original Colorado home county doing the same basic procedures, it would have taken a couple days to accomplish. Just getting a Colorado drivers license is usually a 2 to 3 hour affair...take a number and wait...license plates can take 4 to 5 hours on a "good" day.
The Furnas county courthouse is an older building, but it sure has character in my opinion. The exterior brick work shows it's age, the stairs creak a bit, and some offices are now located in what at one time were Diebold vaults like you might see in a bank. The building was as busy as any place we've been in Nebraska, but either our timing was right, or the folks working for the county really know their stuff because everything went quickly and smoothly. I'd put my money on the county employees knowing their stuff. OK, so maybe knowing what we needed to have with us sped up the process just a little.
So now I guess we're almost completely, officially, full Nebraska residents. Why almost? It still takes 30 days of continuous residence to get a Nebraska resident hunting/fishing license...we're not quite there yet, but we're close!