Lovebirds flock to reopened county building for licenses - Albuquerque Journal

Lovebirds flock to reopened county building for licenses

Bernalillo County Clerk’s Office employee Christopher Griffith, right, helps Joseph Overton, left, and Joi McGee get their marriage license Thursday morning after the office was closed for 10 days due to vandalism. (Adolphe Pierre-Louis/Albuquerque Journal)

Copyright © 2021 Albuquerque Journal

Joi McGee and Joseph Overton intended to get married Tuesday, but those plans ended up as shattered as the windows in Bernalillo County’s Downtown headquarters.

Vandals pumped bullets into the building at 415 Silver SW on Oct. 11, knocking out windows, sending glass scything into heating and cooling units, and elevator works, causing $45,000 in damages, and forcing the closure of the building and county offices – including the clerk’s office, which issues marriage licenses – until Thursday morning.

“We came on Monday morning to get the marriage license,” said McGee, 22. “We didn’t realize they were closed. I said, ‘Now what are we going to do?'”

Overton, also 22, had a suggestion.

“I told Joi we should just invite our grandparents and great-grandmother, go to Vegas and call it even,” he said.

bright spot logoInstead, McGee and Overton, who met as students at Albuquerque’s Mark Twain Elementary School, postponed their wedding at the home of a family member for a couple of days. They were among the first to arrive at the county clerk’s office Thursday morning.

“We were very much relieved they opened,” McGee said.

The $68 million Bernalillo County @ Alvarado Square building opened to the public in August. It’s a busy place.

According to Tia Bland, county communications director, 5,552 people stopped at the information desk or checked into the building in September.

She said 42.1% of those people went to the clerk’s office, 18.8% to planning and development services, and 11.3% to the assessor’s office.

The clerk’s office is responsible for an array of government services, including voter registration, conducting elections and acting as custodian of public records. People go there to file deeds, mortgages, liens and so on. But Bland said many of the people who go to the clerk’s office are seeking marriage licenses.

“Marriage licenses are No. 1 for walk-in services,” she said.

Thursday, as anticipated, was an exceptionally busy day. By 10 a.m., at least a half-dozen couples had stopped in to get licenses, and several other people had come by to file licenses for weddings that have already taken place.

“Normally, we have 90 to 100 customers a day for all services,” said Darlene Hernandez, records supervisor in the clerk’s office. By closing time at 5 p.m. Thursday, Hernandez said the clerk’s office had served 196 people and issued an estimated 60 marriage licenses.

Some things can wait if the clerk’s office is closed. But people need a marriage license to be legally married, and both parties have to go to the clerk’s office in person to get the license.

Andrea Abeyta, left, carries a marriage license and her fiance Meese Broome carries the couple’s 3-month-old daughter Ava as they leave Bernalillo County’s Downtown headquarters building on Thursday. (Adolphe Pierre-Louis/Albuquerque Journal)

“I did not realize I had to come down here and get (the license),” Albuquerque landscaper Meese Broome, 32, said. “If I had, I would have come sooner.”

Broome, Andrea Abeyta, 37, and their 3-month-old daughter, Ava, were at the clerk’s office Thursday morning. Broome and Abeyta are getting married Friday.

It will be a small ceremony at their home, with friends serving as witnesses and a judge officiating. The two are planning a more formal wedding at a chapel in Old Town in the spring, or maybe next fall. Friday’s wedding could have been put off if necessary.

“But the judge is available on Friday,” Broome said. “And Friday is my birthday, so, that way, I won’t ever forget our anniversary.”

Jasmine Jackson, 21, and Adrian Ritchie, 20, were also at the clerk’s office Thursday morning to get a marriage license.

“We tried to come the day (the vandalism) happened,” Jackson said. “No one was here. A security guard told us to come back next week.”

Jackson and Ritchie are not getting married until next month, but they said they needed the license now in order to make arrangements.

“We haven’t found anyone to officiate because they ask if you have your license,” Jackson said. “We wanted to be able to give dates to our family and friends.”

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