ELK POINT, S.D. | Remember when you were little and needed a shot at the doctor's office?

The anticipation of the pain, the fright that you worked up inside yourself could become almost overwhelming. You were so focused on how much you thought it was going to hurt that you sometimes barely even noticed the shot itself until after the nurse told you she was finished.

Union County Courthouse workers weren't expecting that the BPI-ABC trial now underway would be a painful experience.

But the buildup in the weeks leading up to a trial expected to last eight weeks certainly had them ready for two months worth of potential disruptions and inconveniences.

Like that shot at the doctor's office, reality has turned out to be much less than what was anticipated. For the most part, while lawyers argue a case that's drawn nationwide media attention to the makeshift courtroom in the basement, it's been business as usual in the rest of the building.

"It's been way less hectic than we were led to believe. Most of the customers coming in have been shocked it hasn't been worse," Union County Treasurer Myron Hertel said.

The defamation trial, in which BPI is seeking $1.9 billion in damages from ABC for a series of 2012 news stories about its Lean Finely Textured Beef that the company says were inaccurate and cost it million of dollars in business, loomed on the docket for months, and court staff and the sheriff's office prepared workers for the worst.

Only jurors may use the basement restrooms. Courthouse workers may use only the restrooms on the first floor, sharing them with all the lawyers, media members and other people who might be attending the trial.

Parking spots outside the building and in nearby parking lots were expected to be filled by media members and other people interested in watching the trial.

Any member of the public who has business in one of the county's offices in the basement must go through a metal detector before walking down the steps. Courthouse workers need ID badges that allow them to bypass the security station.

As inconvenient as the situation sounds, officer managers said it hasn't been that bad.

A room next to planning and zoning director Dennis Henze's office is now being used by the jurors hearing the case. Henze doesn't have access to the room's big table to spread out maps and documents anymore, and he'll have to conduct planning and zoning commission meetings in the Union County Board of Commissioners meeting room for the next couple months. But the public hasn't had any trouble getting through security and doing business with him.

"I have not heard any complaints," Henze said.

Neither has Susan Irons, the Union County veterans service officer, whose office has been moved from the basement to the board of commissioners conference room on the first floor for the duration of the trial because she and veterans who come to see her would have had to walk through the jury room to get to her office.

"I brought up my important stuff with me," she said. "It works out."

It helps that she only spends one day a week in the Union County office.

Union County Fair manager Janet Lingle said some of the people who come to visit her basement office seem to be a little shaken after the unfamiliar experience of passing through a security checkpoint, but she and her staff are fine.

It could get interesting as she gets busier while the Union County Fair, scheduled for July 27-30, nears. But then, she'll be spending more and more time out of the office and at the fairgrounds in Alcester getting prepared for that.

With one of her busiest times of the year nearly in full swing, Lingle isn't paying much attention to the trial going on just down the hall from her.

"It really isn't affecting my office," she said. "I go about my business."

There may be a few more people passing through the building now and for the next several weeks, but business is getting done.

And it's not hurting one bit.

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Court reporter

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