A hiatus in weddings at the Lucas County Courthouse appears to be at an end.
Probate Court Judge Jack Puffenberger said Tuesday that the courthouse facility committee agreed to have the Rev. Rhonda Sparks on hand to perform weddings beginning Wednesday.
He said Ms. Sparks — who was ordained by the Universal Life Church and registered with the Ohio Secretary of State's office — has agreed to be available at the courthouse from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekdays for couples who get marriage licenses and want to get married the same day.
“Hopefully we get two more people on board, and we're back to where we used to be for decades,” Judge Puffenberger said.
Historically, ministers have been at the courthouse to perform weddings, but the service has been unavailable for several weeks with the departure of the Rev. Sandra Frost, who retired for health reasons, and the termination of the Rev. John Oliver in December after he was accused of mistreating a same-sex couple who came to him to be married.
Under the court's current policy, couples who are married in the county courthouse pay the minister $25 — a considerable savings over Toledo Municipal Court, where judges recently raised the rate to be married by a judge from $15 to $75. A municipal court judge is available from 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday to marry couples.
If there are days when Ms. Sparks cannot be at the courthouse, Judge Puffenberger said, he will permit employees of the Marriage License Bureau, who are ordained ministers, to perform weddings on work time at the courthouse, although they will not be able to charge for their services.
“Our people will be a last resort,” the judge said. “Our preference is our people not do them at all, but we're trying to provide a service here and fill a gap.”
Probate Court Administrator George Sarantou said the committee continues to seek ministers interested in performing weddings at the courthouse. Interested applicants may write to Mr. Sarantou at Lucas County Probate Court, 700 Adams St., Toledo, Ohio 43604.
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