The coronavirus pandemic has led several government offices to either close to the public or modify their procedures, while numerous events and public meetings and gatherings have either been canceled, postponed or had alternative public input measures put in place.

Here are several that have been reported to the Barrow News-Journal.

BARROW COUNTY

Barrow County manager Mike Renshaw and leisure services director Dan Magee said the county would be suspending all senior programming at the Barrow County Senior Citizens Center for two weeks, effective Monday, March 16. Magee said while the building itself will be closed, staff will provide shelf-stable meals upon request to any county resident who is 60 years and older. The center’s phone number is 770-307-3025.

Meanwhile, senior center staff will continue to deliver Meals on Wheels to homebound members and check on their welfare during deliveries, Renshaw said.

“We are also going to assist our senior clients, as staffing allows, with individual trips to the pharmacy and doctor’s office,” Magee said. “We are also referring seniors with special and additional needs to the Northeast Georgia Area Agency on Aging at 706-583-2546. The AAA offers a number of services specific to seniors which county senior centers in the region do not have the resources to provide.”

The county has also suspended all youth and adult sports programing at county parks and recreation facilities until further notice “in order to minimize exposure within large groups,” Renshaw said.

At county offices, the county’s human resources department has developed administrative procedures that will allow all non-essential staff to utilize paid time off in order to stay at home if they become ill; staff without sufficient PTO remaining would also be allowed to accept donated time from others, if necessary, under a temporary policy, Renshaw said.

Renshaw said the county’s custodial crews are treating hard surfaces with a water/bleach mix at all county buildings as recommended by the county health department. 

The Barrow County Board of Commissioners postponed its annual planning retreat that was scheduled for Friday, March 20. Renshaw said the tentative plan is to hold the retreat in late April or early May. The board also has canceled its Tuesday, March 24 work session and will have only one voting meeting on the second Tuesday of each month until further notice. The next meeting is scheduled for April 14. 

Sheriff Jud Smith said the county detention center is limiting the public to the main lobby and has suspended all inmate visitation. Inmates who are brought in are also undergoing screening for potential virus symptoms.

The Barrow County Magistrate Court Office will be open to the public but will only process paperwork for essential services, including search and arrest warrants, initial appearances and bond reviews, amid Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Harold Melton’s declaration of a Statewide Judicial Emergency.

“No civil filings will be accepted nor, after speaking with the sheriff, will any civil paperwork be served,” Chief Magistrate Caroline Power Evans said. “Therefore, the essential filings for Magistrate Court can be handled through electronic means for warrants and our normal bond/first appearance schedule at the detention center.”

Evans said court will still be held for dispossessory hearings that were already scheduled for March 19 and 26 “because I believe that landlord/tenant matters, even though they are civil, are time sensitive and crucial."

Evans initially announced the office would be closed to the public but said late Monday afternoon she had reconsidered her decision.

Also, Probate Judge Tammy Brown's office said in a statement that applications and renewals for weapons-carry licenses will be temporarily suspended, and people can still be granted renewals 30 days after the renewal deadline listed on their licenses.

CITY OF WINDER

All City of Winder facilities are closed to public walk-ins until further notice. Those facilities include City Hall, the Customer Center, Fire Department, Planning Department, Police Department, and Utilities Complex. City services will be available online, by phone, and through limited in-person appointments, according to a news release.

•City Hall: For general information, go to www.cityofwinder.com. If you have any questions, call 770-867-3106 or email city.hall@cityofwinder.com.

•Customer Center: For City of Winder bills, customers can still submit payment in the drop box behind the Customer Center, by phone at 1-855-498-9974, or online at www.cityofwinder.com. If you have any questions, call 770-867-3106 or email customer.service@cityofwinder.com.

•Fire: For emergencies, call 911. For non-emergency questions, call 770-867-3212 or email matt.whiting@cityofwinder.com.

•Planning: If you have any questions, call 770-867-3510 or email barry.edgar@cityofwinder.comyvonne.greenway@cityofwinder.com, and/or lydia.skeppstrom@cityofwinder.com.

•Police: For emergencies, call 911. For non-emergency questions, call 770-867-2156 or email rita.riner@cityofwinder.com and theresa.kraus@cityofwinder.com. You may continue to pay citations online at www.cityofwinder.com or in the drop box behind the Customer Center. The Winder Police Department will not be conducting walk-in background checks during this time.

•Utilities: Call 770-867-7978 or email roger.wilhelm@cityofwinder.com.

At the city-operated Chimneys Golf Course, tee times have been reduced and each individual will be provided their own cart at no additional cost.

The Winder City Council was scheduled as of press time to meet for a work session and called meeting to discuss and potentially vote on the zoning ordinance update on Thursday, March 19, at 6 p.m. in the Winder Police Department Training Room.

The meeting will be open to the public under Georgia law, but anyone who wishes to provide comments virtually may email their comments to city.hall@cityofwinder.com in advance of the meeting by noon on Thursday, March 19.

"We apologize for the inconvenience, but protecting the health and well-being of our citizens and staff is a priority," city officials said. "Protecting our citizens and staff will enable the city to continue providing services while limiting face-to-face interaction to help slow the spread of COVID-19."

OTHER MUNICIPALITIES

•The City of Statham announced city hall is open but city accountant April Plank urged people to practice “social distancing” and come inside only if they need assistance. Plank said utility payments can be made by calling 770-725-5455 and pressing “2” between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. only; online at www.cityofstatham.com; or by placing payments in the drop box outside city hall. The city is also not accepting any applications for community center rentals until further notice. The city council held its regularly-scheduled meeting Tuesday night.

•The City of Auburn postponed a future downtown planning initiative kickoff meeting that was to be held Thursday, March 19, at the Perry Rainey Center until a later date to be determined. A city council work session scheduled for Thursday was also postponed until April 2 at 5 p.m., prior to the council’s voting session that same day. The city has closed its recreational and rental facilities until further notice. While city hall remained open as of press time, the city does encourage people paying bills to consider utilizing a drop box available in front of the building rather than making in-person payments. People with other business with the city are asked to call or email city staff in advance of visiting city facilities.

•The Town of Carl has closed city hall through the end of the month.

•The Town of Bethlehem’s city hall remained open to the public as of press time.

OTHERS

•The Auburn, Statham and Winder public libraries are closed through March 30. Library leaders are encouraging patrons to take advantage of the libraries' digital collection at prlib.org.

•The Barrow County Museum will be closed to the public through March 31. The Barrow County Historical Society’s Board of Trustees will reassess the situation as circumstances warrant, president LeAnne Akin said.

•The Barrow County Chamber of Commerce has canceled all of its monthly meetings for April. The chamber’s annual golf tournament remains scheduled for April 28, but chamber president Tommy Jennings said that is subject to change. The chamber office remains open but will have a limited staff until further notice.

•Winder First Baptist Church announced it was moving its gatherings to online only for at least the next two weeks — Sunday, March 22 and Sunday, March 29. Services will be livestreamed on www.facebook.com/winderfirst. You do not have to have a Facebook account to watch the service. For more information, go to www.winderfirst.com.

•Several local restaurants have made announcements on social media and by email regarding service plans. Most all of them can be found on Facebook. The CDC has recommended that public gatherings be no more than 10 people.

•The Tree House Inc. postponed its annual “A Night of Hope for Children” live and silent auction, originally scheduled for Friday, March 20, until a later date.

•The Barrow County Food Pantry will still hold its monthly food distribution day to people in need at 8 a.m. Thursday, March 26, though the procedures will be modified. The event will be held at Holly Hill Mall, across from Hill’s Ace Hardware, 186 West Athens St., Winder. Clients are asked not to come before 7:30 a.m. and to stay in their vehicles. Vehicles will be lined up and food will be placed into cars.  Clients are asked to have their trunks cleaned out so food can quickly be put in. They are also asked not to smoke. The event is sponsored by the Winder Noon Lions Club and White Oak Spring Missionary Baptist Church and is open to all Barrow County residents who meet USDA income-eligibility requirements. Proof of county residency is required. Food will be served on a first-come, first-served basis.

•A career fair to be hosted by the Winder Housing Authority on May 12 has been canceled.

CONTACT US

If you are the organizer of an event or leader of an organization and have cancellation/postponement/closure information to share, please email them to editor Scott Thompson at sthompson@barrownewsjournal.com. And continue to check barrownewsjournal.com for the latest online updates.

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