County commissioners and department heads have closed the Allen County Courthouse, and declared a state of emergency in response to the COVID-19 crisis.
The state of emergency will last 60 days; the courthouse closure will last one week before the situation is re-evaluated, commissioners said at a special meeting Thursday.
A federal-level emergency and a state-level emergency have already been declared.
“Nothing new has happened, but what this does is enable some of the small businesses to perhaps recoup some of their losses and help the county get reimbursement,” explained Commissioner Bill King.
The intent of the emergency declaration is not to cause panic, King said.
“Putting this in place protects everyone moving forward,” said 911 director Angie Murphy.
By Thursday afternoon, 29 counties had moved to enact similar measures, she added.
THOUGH the courthouse is closed, department heads may be available for appointments in case of emergencies.
Residents should be aware that calls to certain offices may be redirected until an available county employee can be reached.
Departments include those linked to the appraiser, public works, treasurer and register of deeds.
“[What] I’ve envisioned is to close the courthouse to the public, [and] leave to the department heads the determination of what work needs to continue in the office … [as well as] who is there at any one time,” said Commissioner Bruce Symes.
Tuesday’s commission meeting at 8:30 a.m. is still on track to occur. Those on the agenda may conduct business over the phone or remotely.
County employees will continue to receive salary and wages as per usual, and are therefore considered “available.”
In the words of county counselor Bob Johnson, despite the current situation, “the county’s still open for business.”
The DMV office will be closed entirely for the next two weeks.
The Allen County Landfill will remain open.
Road crews will continue to work, but with limited staff.
“We’re still going to be open 24-7,” said Sheriff Bryan Murphy, in reference to law enforcement.
REGARDING courts in Allen County and the 31st Judicial District (Allen, Neosho, Wilson, Woodson):
The Kansas Supreme Court today issued Administrative Order 2020-PR-016 directing all district and appellate courts to cease all but emergency operations until further order.
The only exception is jury trials already underway. They may proceed to conclusion, but no other criminal or civil jury trials will be scheduled until further order.
The Kansas Supreme Court anticipates the order to remain in effect for at least two weeks, at which time it will be re-evaluated.