The Knox County Courthouse will remain closed to the general public.
The county commissioners two weeks ago agreed to keep the courthouse closed but allow elected officials to begin making individual appointments with local residents in need of services.
They decided then to revisit the issue when they met again.
On Tuesday they decided to stay the course, at least for now.
“I’ve talked to a number of them,” commission president Kellie Streeter said of the various county department heads, “and really, most of them want to remain by appointment only.”
Streeter said elected officials and employees have settled well into handling county business on an individual basis.
The treasurer’s office has largely remained closed, thereby encouraging residents to pay their property tax bills either via drop box outside, online or by phone. The deadline to pay property tax bills officially passed on May 11, but Gov. Eric Holcomb has allowed for an additional 60 days to pay without penalty.
Streeter said she’d received no complaints on the county’s appointment-only policy so far, neither from employees themselves nor from members of the public.
“And I’m not seeing a rush,” said commissioner Tim Ellerman of recent courthouse activity, adding that it seemed to him that most people were content to stay away, handle business remotely.
“So I say, steady as she goes,” he said, meaning the courthouse should remain, largely, closed. “But I do hope we can get things back to normal as fast as possible.”
Some judges, too, have started holding “miscellaneous” court hearings as necessary, Streeter said.
In the end, the commissioners opted to extend their emergency declaration as is, which is to keep the courthouse closed for now.
Streeter, too, added that other county departments, such as the probation department and the prosecutor’s office, continue to handle business in the same, limited way.
The commissioners will meet again on June 3.
Wednesday, the governor moved up the start of stage three of his back-on-track plan, to begin on Friday. It calls for limited public access to local government facilities, such as the courthouse, and for local government's to determine their own policies.
For now, the commissioners say they will take the possibility of fully reopening the courthouse one meeting at a time.
But residents should, however, be prepared for restrictions when the courthouse does reopen, such as temperature screenings upon entry, social distancing and universal masking.
Most county departments are already mandating that anyone with an appointment wear a mask.
Knox County Emergency Management Agency Director John Streeter has supplied the courthouse with 2,000 masks, but in an effort to keep the supply healthy, the commissioners are encouraging visitors to bring their own.