Barrow County manager Mike Renshaw announced last week that all county facilities, with the exception of the Judicial Courthouse, which is operating under a statewide Judicial Emergency Declaration, will be closed to the public until further notice.

The closure took effect Friday, March 20.

Renshaw’s announcement comes amid the worldwide coronavirus pandemic. The decision is based upon recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control, which is recommending that public gatherings be restricted to less than 10 and that “social distancing” be practiced, he said.

The board of commissioners work session scheduled for Tuesday, March 24, has been canceled. Its next meeting will be April 14. The board will hold just one voting session per month until further notice.

“Adequate staffing levels within all county departments will be maintained to provide continuity of services to our customers by phone or email,” Renshaw said in a news release. “We are also encouraging the public to make use of U.S. mail, online payment and transaction services offered on the county website, or payment drop boxes such as for county utility payments which may be dropped off at 625 Hwy. 211 NE, Winder."

The county’s COVID-19 Task Force will continue to monitor conditions within the community and provide updates via the county’s Facebook page and website, Renshaw said.

In order to contact a county office for service or questions, go to www.barrowga.org and click on “Departments” for a menu and all contact information. You may also contact the main desk by calling 770-307-3000 for operator assistance.

“We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience associated with this closure, and encourage all of our residents to be safe and to follow CDC-recommended preventative measures to stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus,” Renshaw said.

OTHER COUNTY GOVERNMENT UPDATES

•All emergency response services are continuing with extra safety precautions in place. Access has been restricted at all emergency response facilities and the 911 Center. Signs have been posted on the front door of all fire stations advising people on how to contact those inside the station. All Barrow County Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) trainings and meetings are canceled until the end of March. Open-records requests should be made online through the county’s website, and requestors will be contacted to make arrangements for receiving their documents.

•All plans for the fire marshal’s office should be sent by courier, and contractors must call before they come to pick up plans to arrange a time for pickup. All routine fire life safety code inspections of existing buildings has been suspended until the end of March. Contractors or business owners requiring a certificate of occupancy inspection should contact the fire marshal by phone to discuss options for an inspection.

•The Magistrate’s Office is continuing “essential court functions,” including bond hearings and search and arrest warrants. All other “non-essential” functions are on hold until at least April 13.

•The Probate Court is only performing “essential” functions, defined as emergency adult guardianship/conservatorship matters, permanent guardianship/conservatorship petitions with accusations of abuse, neglect or harm, medical consent guardianships, and orders to apprehend. All trials and hearings scheduled during the closure period are continued until further order of the court, and only emergency hearings will be scheduled. The court is accepting estate/guardianship filings by self-represented litigants by appointment only. All probate courts in the state are temporarily suspending acceptance of applications for weapons carry licenses and license renewals. License expiration dates during the statewide judicial emergency period (April 13) will be extended 30 days. Marriage licenses will be issued by appointment only to couples whose marriage ceremony will occur on or before April 13. Marriage licenses for ceremonies occurring after April 13 will not be issued until April 14. The issuance of birth, death and marriage certificates shall be appointment only. The office urges that all matters be handled by phone or mail if possible.

•All Barrow County Leisure Services activities and programs are canceled through March 29 and are tentatively scheduled to resume March 30; however, that is subject to change.

•At the Senior Citizens Center, Meals on Wheels is being delivered by staff daily to all senior center members (regular home-delivered meal seniors and congregant seniors who normally drive to the center or are picked up by center buses and driven to the center). Meal deliveries will be added to any county senior who is not currently served but is in need. The members who have chosen not to receive meals are being called daily for a wellness check. The center is also in communication with the Northeast Georgia Area Agency on Aging and is referring any seniors with special needs (home-based services, housing options, transportation, respite care, personal care services, Medicare counseling, etc.).

•At the Barrow County Sheriff’s Office, the front lobby of the BCSO headquarters, 233 East Broad St., Winder, is closed to the public until further notice. Anyone who needs to request a copy of an incident or accident report can do so by going to www.barrowsheriff.com and clicking on the Open Records Request tab. You may also email or call Aleshia Royal at aroyal@barrowsheriff.com and 770-307-3080, Ext. 5749, or Regina Hall at rhall@barrowsheriff.com and 770-307-3080, Ext. 4992 to request a copy of an Incident or accident report. There is a $5 charge for all accident reports, and the department accepts debit or credit card payments over the phone.

•At the Barrow County Detention Center, 652 Barrow Park Dr., Winder, the public lobby is closed to the general public except for bonding purposes. Visitation with inmates has been suspended effective immediately. If you have an inmate you would like to visit via the internet, you can set that up at www.securus.net. If you need to place money on the books of an inmate, go to www.jailatm.com. You must have the inmate’s ID number in order to set up either of these accounts mentioned. You may also call the Detention Center at 770-307-3090 for questions or more information. Each inmate being brought in is being screened for fever by medical staff and is answering COVID-19 screening questions. Deputies are also vetting calls in some cases and, if they can, they are doing the report over the phone. The sheriff’s department is also assessing each call and trying to avoid going into someone’s home unless they have to, officials say.

•At the Tax Commissioner’s Office, the lobby is closed to the public. You may renew your tag online with a valid driver’s license and your tag number at the following link: https://dor.georgia.gov/motor-vehicles/drives-e-services. Or you may renew your tag over the phone at 770-307-3106. You may also renew your tag through the mail. Any renewals received will be processed and mailed out within 24 hours of receipt. If you have purchased a car through a casual sale (not a dealership), call 770-307-3106 and choose the tag option for a temporary tag. Have your title readily available, along with driver’s license, and insurance information. For more information, you may email one of the following: pjones@barrowga.org, klcooper@barrowga.org, jhoward@barrowga.org, pwilliams@barrowga.org or awages@barrowga.org. For dealerships, the office will have a drop box for title work in the hallway outside the door. Include your contact number for any questions that may arise. You can call 770-307-3106, ext. 8971 to let the office know you’ve dropped the paperwork off. You may also email ccofer@barrowga.org with general questions. If you have a property tax payment, you may pay that online at www.barrowgatax.org. You may pull your bill by bill number, name or address. You can also call 770-307-3016, ext. 3818 or ext. 3820 and choose the option for property taxes to pay over the phone.

•Per the recommendation of the National Animal Care and Control Association, Barrow County Animal Control officers are only responding to high-priority/emergency calls, including law enforcement assistance, injured or sick stray animals, cruelty and neglect complaints, bite complaints, and dangerous and aggressive dog complains. Low-priority/non-emergency responses have been suspended, including non-aggressive stray animal pickup, leash law and licensing complaints, barking and nuisance complains, trapping and transport of community cats, and conflict mitigation scenarios. The department is also reducing “nonessential” shelter intake and encouraging owners who are ill to keep their pets at home whenever possible.

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