The Crawford County Board of Supervisors voted 5-0 on May 26 to set Wednesday, June 3, as the date of the “soft opening” of the Crawford County Courthouse.
The reopening will allow individuals to do business at the courthouse without an appointment as long as they meet screening criteria upon entry.
The courthouse doors have been locked, with public access by appointment only, since March 17 due the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic in what has been termed Phase 1.
The soft opening will be Phase 2.
Beginning at 8 a.m. on Wednesday, June 3, the east entrance of the courthouse will be open to the general public.
A staff member of Crawford County Public Health will monitor the entrance and screen members of the public who enter the courthouse.
A health screening and temperature check will be completed for every individual allowed into the building. Individuals with a temperature of 100.4 or higher will not be allowed to enter.
All visitors will be required to wear a mask while in the courthouse and are responsible for providing their own mask.
A time will be designated for higher-risk individuals to receive courthouse access appointments.
The county will maintain a record of visitors who have been allowed in the building.
The east door will be locked from 11 to 11:30 a.m. to allow the screening staff member a break for lunch.
Members of the public may access courthouse services during the 11 to 11:30 a.m. break online, over the phone or by utilizing the outside drop box on the east side of the courthouse.
Crawford County Auditor Terri Martens told the supervisors that a desk with a phone and hand sanitizer would be located near the east courthouse entrance during the soft opening.
No new visitors will be allowed into the courthouse after 3:30 p.m.; the courthouse will close at 4:30 p.m.
Countertop shields and other distancing measures, such as barriers, have been installed in county offices – or will be installed by June 3.
Supplies will be provided to allow for frequent hand washing and hand sanitizing for employees and members of the public.
Hand sanitizer stations will be at the entry points of the courthouse.
Signs will help remind visitors and staff of the actions to follow to help prevent the spread of the virus: No one should enter the courthouse if they currently have COVID-19 symptoms or have been around anyone with a confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis in the previous 14 days. Social distancing should be maintained. If an employee or a member of the public becomes ill while at the courthouse, share that information with Crawford County Public Health.
The written reopening plan was developed by a planning committee comprising the department heads of county offices.
According to the reopening plan, Phase 2 will continue for a period to be determined by the board of supervisors.
“The last couple of weeks I’ve been wanting to get this place open as soon as we can,” said Supervisor Kyle Schultz. “We closed down for a period of time to slow the spread and get our hospitals geared up – and we’ve done that. That’s why I feel we need to start opening back up.”
He said he didn’t think the reopening plan was perfect, but he was willing to compromise to get the courthouse open.
Supervisor Dave Muhlbauer said that if COVID-19 case numbers go down, the soft opening might only last a week.
“Maybe it’s shorter term and hopefully it is,” he said.
Chairman Cecil Blum noted that the board of supervisors had followed Gov. Kim Reynolds’s directive when the courthouse was shut down in March.
He said Reynolds has now mostly reopened the state, with a few exceptions.
“We’d be hard pressed to defend having the courthouse closed for an extended period when the people in our area – the key players – are open,” Blum said.
He said a full opening of the courthouse would probably happen sooner, rather than later.
The supervisors also voted on Tuesday to end the county’s action plan policy that sent some county employees home each week to provide continuity for county offices in case some staff members became ill; that policy ended at the end of the day on Tuesday.
Other elements of the Phase 2 courthouse reopening were also addressed by the planning committee.
The west courthouse entrance will be used as an employee entrance.
Each county department will be responsible for determining the number of individuals allowed in their office.
Staff members will be responsible for instructing visitors to maintain appropriate social distancing (six feet) while in their office. Departments may use floor markings to indicate where visitors should be located.
Board of Supervisors meetings will be held in the supervisor’s boardroom. A maximum of 10 people will be allowed in the room. Overflow can be accommodated by a call-in or virtual meeting option.
Courthouse staff will continue increased cleaning of frequently-touched surfaces throughout the day. Staff will clean any surfaces and/or items touched by visitors.
Daily cleaning of all departments will be completed after all visitors have left the courthouse at the end of the day.
“Phase 3” of the courthouse reopening, which would be close to a full reopening, was also addressed in the planning committee’s document.
The date for a return to regular operations will be determined by the board of supervisors.
The courthouse hours will be 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. with no restrictions. All entrances will be open to the public.
Continued mitigation measures for each office will be determined by the department head.
The planning committee members are Terri Martens, auditor; Sherri Neddermeyer, treasurer; Paul Assman, engineer; Duane Zenk, assessor; Chris Gosch, conservation; Kim Fineran, Public Health administrator; Lynette Ludwig, Public Health administrator; Glen Barngrover, Juvenile Probation officer; Karen Kahl, clerk of court; Greg Miller, Emergency Management.