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Hall County Schools will return to an in-person hybrid schedule beginning Tuesday, Jan. 19, after the school system reported stabilizing COVID-19 numbers and “significantly” decreased student cases, Superintendent Will Schofield announced Thursday morning.
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Passport fees to increase Tuesday
Nicol Culpepper, right, is helped with her passport by deputy clerk April Ingram Friday afternoon at the Hall County Clerk of Courts office. Passport fees are being raised by 35 percent.

If you've been putting off getting a passport for that overseas trip, you might want to get in line today.

That's because starting Tuesday, the cost of passport books will go up by 35 percent, after the U.S. Department of State tacked on another $35 to adult passports that now cost $100.

Passport card fees will go up Tuesday from $45 to $55, and a passport book for children younger than 18 goes up from $85 to $105. Cards for children go up by $5 to $40.

The U.S. Department of State said in a news release that the increase came after a cost of service study conducted last year by the Bureau of Consular Affairs.

"The revised fees will cover actual operating expenses for the 301 oversea consular posts, 23 domestic passport agencies and other centers that provide these consular services to U.S. and foreign citizens," according to a State Department news release.

In Hall County, passports are available by appointment only at the U.S. Post Office from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., or at the Hall County Clerk of Court's office, located on the ground (basement) level of the Hall County Courthouse on Spring Street in Gainesville.

Hall County's Clerk of Courts office is one of the few larger clerks offices in the region that processes passport applications, for which it receives a $25 processing fee included in the prices listed above. The processing fee is not going up.

Many passport applicants come to the Hall clerk's office from surrounding counties, including Gwinnett.

Clerk of Court Charles Baker said he continues to offer the service because of the money it provides for the county and the fact that "it's a valuable service."

Last year Baker's office processed nearly 3,000 passport applications, or about 11 a day, disbursing more than $74,000 in processing fees to Hall County's general fund, he said.

Since news of the fee increase has spread, passport business has picked up even more, said deputy clerk April Ingram. Ingram estimated in the last week the office processed between 15 and 20 passport applications a day.

Once the price for adult passport books goes up to $135, Ingram doesn't doubt she'll hear some complaints.

 "They'll complain, but if people want to travel, they're going to travel," she said.

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