COVID-19 concern prompts entry, safety changes at Pott. County courthouse

Elisabeth Slay

Pottawatomie County Commissioners, local judges and other elected officials discussed in length proper safety measures and policies needed to protect county employees and the public from the spread of COVID-19 during a regular meeting Monday.

After much discussion, commissioners, judges and other elected officials agreed to implement a policy that allows only those with official business at the Pottawatomie County Courthouse to enter the building.

In the meeting, District 1 Commissioner Melissa Dennis said those found wandering the courthouse will be asked to leave if they are not there for any sort of court proceeding or legal cause.

Dennis said there will be notices posted on the front doors of the building to inform people of these policies.

In addition, Dennis said before entering the building, people will be required to have their temperature checked and those with a fever will be asked to leave.

Dennis said these measures are to ensure the safety of county employees and elected officials who currently need to stay at the courthouse.

Commissioners, local judges and other elected officials also said in the meeting that courthouse custodial staff will up their cleaning methods and disinfect and deep clean the building and all areas nightly.

Local judges and county staff ask those needing to pay their taxes or other related legal documents to utilize the courthouse's dropbox and avoid entering the building unless absolutely necessary.

According to Pottawatomie County Sheriff Mike Booth, all deputies from the Pottawatomie County Sheriff's Office are required to wear gloves and masks if they are called to someone's home or other such places.

County commissioners and local judges said with this week being Spring Break, the courthouse will not be as crowded and therefore they will try several different ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

These methods include staggering cases so there are not as many people waiting in one location, limiting the number of family members present at civil and criminal court proceedings and making as much hand sanitizer and other disinfects available to people as possible.

Commissioners decided to check in with local judges and other elected officials as the week progresses and revisit the issue in a Special Meeting if needed and if not, at the next regular meeting Monday, March 23.

Check back for updates.

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