As of 8 a.m. last Friday the Park County Courthouse shut its doors to the general public.
The decision was made unanimously by the county commissioners during their meeting Thursday.
“This is an opportunity to be leaders and shut some of this down” commissioner Jake Fulkerson said.
The closure applies to all offices, but district court and circuit court will remain open for all court business. The clerk’s office will be performing limited business by appointment as well.
Staff will still be working in every county department and the public can call that respective office if emergency assistance is needed. There will be no public door access at the facility.
The courthouse closures will remain through at least the morning of April 7.
The commissioners also decided on how it will manage its employees during this time period, but multiple departments expressed confusion about the order after it was issued.
Under their decision, non-essential employees should work from home if possible. It will be up to the department heads to decide who is and is not essential.
“You make the decision, we will stand by that decision,” Commissioner Chairmen Joe Tilden told an impromptu gathering of department heads at their emergency meeting.
Those who do work from home should try to work remotely if possible, but will be paid for their time either way.
Employees who are sick, don’t feel comfortable working, or can’t find daycare for their children can stay at home and use sick time.
“We can’t stop people from gaming the system,” Commissioner Lee Livingston.
Initially, this sick time will be pulled from their normal allotted amount, but if used up before April 7, will be replenished by the 80-hours supplied by the government in the recently passed Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act.
“In two weeks when we try and revisit it, we can close all the loopholes,” Tilden said.
But fear to come to work is not covered by the legislation. Colleen Renner, Park County clerk said, who also vocalized during the Thursday meeting she is against employees being able to use sick time for this reason.
“By and large, I believe the majority of the employees will come to work unless their told to go home,” Tilden said.
Sheriff Scott Steward expressed confidence that none of his deputies would abuse the grey area currently existing under the county’s temporary policies.
“We have some hardcore dedicated people,” Steward said.
Mike Conners, chief information officer for Park County, said his staff will be working with rubber gloves and does not anticipate any of his employees working remotely.
Tilden said if sick time needs to be used later this year it will be approved on a case-by-case basis by department heads.
Renner said her staff will work on a rotation basis. Park County Planning and Zoning staff were still in the courthouse as of Friday.
Mike Garza, superintendent of building and grounds, said his crews will be segregated out. The commissioners provided initial support for purchasing two $7,000 bleach fogging machines to improve the county’s sanitization efforts, but have not yet signed off on the purchase.
Also at the commissioner meeting, Russ Wenke was approved to be public information officer for the county’s COVID-19 pandemic response. He will be paid at a $20/per hour rate as a contract or temporary part time employee.