By Conrad Dudderar
Senior Staff Writer
EL RENO – Canadian County elected officials have implemented measures to further restrict public access to county offices in efforts to limit coronavirus exposure to county residents and employees.
Canadian County Commissioners, at their weekly meeting Monday morning in El Reno, discussed enhanced safety procedures with other county officers in response to growing COVID-19 concerns.
“We are still open for business but are doing what’s reasonable to minimize interaction and keep the public and our staff at a safe distance,” County Commission Chairman Marc Hader said. “We’re asking Canadian County residents to conduct business by mail, online or by phone if possible.”
There will be “drop boxes” inside the lobby of the Canadian County Administration Building, 201 N Choctaw, for citizens to leave documents and payments for the county assessor’s office, county clerk’s office and county treasurer’s office.
The assessor, clerk and treasurer have forms available for public use inside the administration building lobby. Portable dividing walls are being installed for those citizens who need to come inside to conduct county business.
Meanwhile, a sheriff’s deputy has been stationed in the lobby to enhance security. Extra deputies are available with schools closed and lower inmate numbers.
County commissioners will seek bids from vendors to enclose with glass the front entrances of several county departments, according to Chairman Hader.
COURTROOMS ARE CLOSED
The Canadian County Court Clerk’s Office has drop boxes inside the lobby of the Canadian County Courthouse/Judicial Building, 301 N Choctaw; and the Canadian County Juvenile Center, 7905 E Highway 66.
“This is for people who cannot make their payments online and for anyone who wants to drop off filings for our office or the judges,” District Court Clerk Marie Hirst said.
“We are still doing marriage licenses for in-county residents only and we are keeping them at a distance. We are asking everyone to mail, email or fax their filings … and we can take payment over the phone.”
Meanwhile, the second floor of the Canadian County Courthouse is temporarily closed after more than 200 court hearings were rescheduled. There still are hearings as needed for victim’s protective orders, emergency guardianships, etc.
Canadian County courtrooms, judge’s chambers and offices are upstairs.
Employees of the court clerk’s and district attorney’s offices are still working on the first floor of the Canadian County Judicial Building although public access has been limited.
Some Canadian County employees will work from home if they are able, District 3 County Commissioner Jack Stewart said.
“The idea is to keep this (virus) from spreading,” Stewart said.
“We’re not closing county offices, but we are limiting access right now. This is being done at county offices everywhere; it’s becoming fairly common around the country.”