County Commissioners launch emergency measures
By Suzanne Mackey
News Star Reporter
In an emergency meeting of The Garvin County Board of Commissioners on Wednesday, the commissioners voted to approve a declaration of emergency for Garvin County due to the impending threat of the COVID-19 virus.
The emergency declaration follows similar action at the state and national levels and will allow county officials to take action to protect public health and limit further spread of infection and loss of life. It also designates the county as a disaster area, opening access to additional resources, aid-relief and assistance, should those become necessary.
Commissioners also heard from county officers regarding adjustments being made within the courthouse to minimize the risk of exposure to COVID-19 for county employees and the public while still ensuring the continuity of government and daily operations.
The board approved measures to reduce the number of entry points into the building to one entrance, to restrict unnecessary foot traffic in the building, and implement drop boxes for conducting routine business such as payment of fines and taxes, where reasonable.
Visitors are being asked to enter through the annex door on the Walnut Street side of the courthouse and to try to limit the number of people they bring with them to conduct business.
Gayla Dean, with the Garvin County Election Board, said she is currently working with state election officials to address concerns for how to conduct early voting, local elections and local filing periods scheduled in April.
County Treasurer Sandy Goggans said her office is encouraging taxpayers to make payments online or by mail, if possible.
District Judge Leah Edwards advised that the April jury term has been cancelled and those cases are being postponed.
Sheriff Jim Mullett said there are currently just under 50 inmates in the county jail. Extra cleaning and precautions have been implemented in the jail area, and his office is implementing protocols for medical staff to screen inmates coming into the jail for COVID-19 before they enter the building.
Mullett said patrol officers are equipped with extra uniforms and protective gear including gloves and sanitizer. He stressed that, with regard to patrols and arrests, the sheriff’s office is conducting business as normal.
“We’re not shutting down our patrol. For the safety of the community and the stuff that we need to be doing, in fact, we’re almost beefing it up,” Mullett said.
Garvin County Extension Director Melissa Koesler said most of the extension office’s events and programming for the next several weeks have already been canceled. They are currently still conducting soil sample testing. She said they are exploring webinar alternatives for their annual mandatory dicamba training scheduled for March 24.