CLAYTON — With the lifting of the 10 people or less guideline by Gov. Kay Ivey on Monday, the Barbour County Commissioner was able to conduct its regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday, May 12.
Last week, commissioners had planned on those that planned to attend to meet at the back of the Clayton Courthouse in the parking lot to have the meeting. They were able to change that plan late Monday afternoon and hold the meeting in the Commissioners’ Chambers inside the courthouse. Social distancing was still observed with commissioners spacing their selves out to not only occupy the commissioners’ desk in the front of the room, but also the tables on each side of the room. Chairs were spaced six feet or more apart for others in attendance, and with chairs being spaced so far apart, attendance of the meeting was at its maximum occupancy.
One of the main topics discussed during the meeting was when the courthouses were going to be able to reopen to the public.
County Attorney Walter Calton told commissioners, “On opening or not reopening the courthouses, one of the things you need to be aware of is that the court system is ultimately controlled by the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court is giving directions to the presiding circuit judges and they are going to decide if they are going to have in-person hearings authorized by the Supreme Court. That does not necessarily say when the county commission can open the general activity of the courthouses. There are two competing issues, one when court may start and one when the commission will open courthouses to the general public. You need to be aware that if the court declares that they are going to start having in court hearings, which will pretty much open the courthouse. I can tell you right now that cases are being set for June 29; that may change.
“I do think that the county commission needs to be aware that there is a time coming, probably sooner than later, when you are going have to address policies and procedures for letting the public come in and use the courthouses.. Just as sure as we are here, that day is coming. When it does, you may not have a lot of notice.”
Commissioners voted to form a committee with County Administrator Raye Ann Calton heading it up.
Other members of the committee will include Commissioner Jerry McGilvray, EMA Director David Logan, and elected officials, Probate Judge Susan Shorter and Revenue Commissioner Marshall Williams.
One of the changes that the public will see at the courthouses will be plexiglass shields that are being installed in areas where courthouse employees will be face to face with customers.
The cost for the shields are for the Clayton Courthouse is $1,272 and for Eufaula’s courthouse $2,544. Commissioners voted to go ahead with the installation so that much will be done as they move forward with opening both courthouses in Barbour County.
Other safety precautions that were discussed during the meeting were having the temperature of anyone entering the courthouse checked and keeping a log of the information; having hand sanitizing stations at all entrances of the courthouse; having employees wear face masks and use gloves; increased disinfecting of surfaces, including pens that might be used by the public; and encouraging social distancing, of both employees and customers.
No date was set by the commission as to when courthouses in Eufaula and Clayton would reopen to the public.