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County buildings to close

Supervisors pass disaster resolution in response to the coronavirus

The Hamilton County Courthouse and Social Services building are closing, effective today, and Hamilton County Public Health at Shashi Station will close Thursday following action taken yesterday by the board of supervisors.

The board met in special session Tuesday afternoon to announce the closures. During the meeting, they also passed a disaster declaration for Hamilton County.

The supervisors on Monday had asked all county residents to conduct as much courthouse business as possible via telephone or using online tools.

“But we don’t think that was enough to protect the community,” said Chairman Doug Bailey of the additional protection measures. “And there is no deadline; this will be for as long as deemed necessary.”

Bailey said staff will continue to work at the three locations, however, he said there will likely be some who will work from home.

“Not all services will be able to continue, but the vast majority of services and operations will,” he said.

Supervisor Dan Campidilli said for secondary roads employees, it will be “business as usual.”

“In case of an event, secondary roads will be out clearing the roads. It sounds like Thursday we could have some rain and freezing overnight,” Campidilli said.

Bailey said there is a drop box on the southeast side of the courthouse yard where payments or documents could be dropped off.

“It’s primarily been used by the treasurer’s office but we will be using that now for all departments,” Bailey said. He added the drop box will be checked periodically throughout the day.

He suggested the public contact the individual offices if there are specific questions.

Shelby Kroona, Public Health administrator, said the Iowa Department of Public Health does consider Hamilton County to be a very low risk county for transmission at this point.

“As of today, there is no testing that has been done and no positive coronavirus cases in Hamilton County,” she said.

She encouraged local residents to follow the recommendations from the Centers for Disease Contro. She saidl across the state of Iowa, counties and cities are moving from prevention to mitagation.

“We are asking people to use social distancing, but continue to wash your hands, cover coughs and sneezes and stay home when sick.”

Supervisor Rick Young said in addition to planning for the health of Hamilton County citizens, the supervisors are working with the Iowa Economic Development Authority to develop recommendations on how to make a quick recovery for area businesses impacted by closures.

Sheriff Doug Timmons told the board that his office would also be closed to the public. The front window at the office will be closed, he said.

“Gun permits will have to wait and issuance will be suspended until further notice,” he said. “Civil papers can be mailed and as of now, will be served.”

Timmons said sex offenders should call the sheriff’s office with any changes or for their previously scheduled checks.

“Dispatch will continue business as usual. No changes will take place there,” he said. “Deputies will continue to patrol the county and emergency calls will still be answered in the safest manner possible.”

In a press release, Timmons outlined changes coming for the Hamilton County Jail in light of the COVID-19 threat. All non-essential services to the Hamilton County Jail will be suspended until further notice, including Narcotics Anonymous, Alcoholics Anonymous and religious services. Visitation will also be suspended until further notice. Attorneys are asked to contact the jail for further assistance.

According to the release, citizens with jail time to serve, that time has been suspended until further notice. Fingerprinting services have also been suspended. All commissary funds and phone cards can be mailed.

The situation with the COVID-19 virus is “very fluid,” according to Bailey.

“It’s a minute by minute thing, changing very rapidly. We appreciate the patience on the part of the public and realize this is a difficult situation,” Bailey said.

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