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Courthouse, offices, district court respond to covid-19
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Many offices located in the Barton County Courthouse are implementing measures to protect staff and the public from covid-19.

Barton County is taking steps to minimize direct physical contact due to covid-19, county officials reported Tuesday afternoon. Below is a roundup of actions being taken.

• The Courthouse offices will be staffed and ready to respond to essential functions, but will attempt to provide distance between employees and the public requesting services, County Clerk Donna Zimmerman said. Effective Tuesday, most Courthouse offices will maintain restricted access.  “We strongly encourage citizens to maintain social distancing by using the County’s online functions, emailing or calling ahead for assistance.”

• “The Barton County Treasurer’s Office is concerned about the impact coronavirus has on how we serve the public,” Treasurer Jim Jordan said. 

In order to provide customer service as needed, until further notice, the Treasurer’s Office will remain open. However, the only persons allowed into the office will be the person or persons listed on paperwork. 

“These pro-active measures are being taken to help protect the health of our citizens and our staff,” he said. 

Call the office with questions at 620-793-1831. 

• Chief Judge Mike Keeley addressed precautions taken for COVID-19 by issuing Administrative Order 31.

“As it performs essential functions, the 20th Judicial District in Barton, Ellsworth. Rice, Russell and Stafford counties remains open,” it reads. “The risk level in our district is unknown but health care professionals advise that we should all minimize contact to prevent the spread of COVID-19; however, we also have an obligation to allow people access to the judicial system.”

The 20th Judicial District intends to take the following reasonable measures toward that end:

• Juries: The court system cannot function without juries. All jury trials scheduled through May 1 are continued pending further order of the court. Any juror that received a summons for trials from March 17 through May 1 do not need to report to the courthouse on the assigned date on your summons. 

All jurors summoned during this time will be placed back into the jury pool and may be summoned later in the year.

• Litigants: If one has a case scheduled and begin to feel ill, they should consider the following:

– Contact the opposing party or attorney to explore an agreed continuance.

– If there is no agreement, contact the administrative assistant for the division presiding over the case to advise if they are unable to attend court. Judges will consider on a case-by-case basis whether a continuance of the court date is in order.

• Regular dockets will proceed at this time.

“The current situation is one that presents challenges to the court’s normal operating procedures,” the order reads. “We are looking at all of the ways in which we might temporarily alter those procedures to minimize risk while still attending to the court’s core responsibilities. We appreciate the cooperation and patience of the public as we work to implement these changes in procedure.”