PARIS — The Oxford County Sheriff’s Office intends to hire a part-time office assistant to help with paperwork from the civil process division and provide front-office coverage at its main office on Western Avenue.

County commissioners approved the move at its meeting Tuesday, after hearing complaints about changes in the county’s civil process division from a Rumford-area landlord. They also told Sheriff Wayne Gallant about complaints they received in the last week about the front desk at the Sheriff’s Office being closed.

Gallant told Commissioners Caldwell Jackson of Oxford, Steven Merrill of Norway and David Duguay of Byron that last week was a rarity and bringing on a part-time assistant for an average of 10 hours per week could help prevent a similar situation.

Gallant and Chief Deputy Hart Daley said they were happy with the reorganized civil division and believed it was a more efficient, safe and professional way to do business.

Last year, the Sheriff’s Office disbanded the county’s civil process division, staffed with part-time civilian employees, and assigned two uniformed deputies to serve legal paperwork in Oxford County.

Deputies serving papers have been able to intervene in domestic violence incidences, uncover illegal pot-growing operations and respond to vehicle accidents, giving the Sherrif’s Office more coverage in the county, Daley told commissioners.

In an interview outside the meeting, Daley said under the division’s civilian employees, paperwork was often lost or submitted late. Civilian employees also did not have the training or authority to take on dangerous or criminal situations confronting them in the course of serving papers, he said.

Gail Rein, who said she owns 25 apartment units in Rumford and Mexico, complained that she was being charged nearly four times the amount to serve paperwork and the paperwork was often returned to her late. Rein said she frequently has to serve tenants with a notification that she has filed a forcible entry and detainer complaint, often the first step in an eviction, against them.

Prior to changing the division, she was able to have a civilian server in the Rumford area. Now, a deputy travels from South Paris to serve papers, and she has to pay the mileage cost.

Because serving papers rarely works the first or even second time, she has gone from paying $25 to $35 for a single service to paying upward of $125 to get the job done, she told commissioners.

“For me, it is a lot more costly and less efficient,” she said. She acknowledged that the former civilian employee would sometimes go back to the same house up to three times a day to serve papers, in violation of civil service procedure.

Daley said he was aware of Rein’s complaints but had no intention to revert the civil division to civilian employees.

“It’s the cost of doing business,” Daley said.

“We just couldn’t continue to deal with the liability of having civilians out there,” he said. “You have one individual who is upset, but in actuality it is a much more efficient and professional service.”

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