County offices to stay open, with restrictions

Gale Rose
Pratt County Counselor Tyson Eisenhauer advises county officials on legal procedures. A special county meeting took place on Wednesday between several county entities regarding proper action in response to COVID-19 obligations.

Pratt County commissioners held a special session Wednesday, March 18 to discuss with health care providers and department heads the best way to keep county services available to the residents of Pratt County during the COVID-19 crisis.

Several options were discussed from limiting public access to closing the building entirely but there are statutory duties that take place in the courthouse that have to be available to the public, according to Pratt County counselor Tyson Eisenhauer.

Eisenhauer said he had reached out to other counties to see what they had done and he searched for legal authority on closing the building but couldn't find it.

"I'm not comfortable with total building closure to the public, " Eisenhauer said. "I haven't found authority of shutting down to the public."

Dr. Gene Cannata said Pratt Regional Medical Center has taken the lead and has restricted access. He said the county needs to be cautious about closing completely. If the courthouse is closed, even for a limited time like two weeks, the building would stay closed.

"If you close access now, you won't be opening up in two weeks," Cannata said.

After considering various operations and considering how the departments would function if someone in the building did get the virus, it was determined to keep county offices open with access restrictions.

"Controlling access makes good sense," Eisenhauer said. "But don't come unless you have to."

From information gathered at this meeting, Eisenhauer released new guidelines for Pratt County offices.

Effective Friday, March 20, Pratt County will limit citizen access to certain governmental offices within the courthouse. Access can only be gained through the ADA accessible door on the west side of the building. Citizens may be required to sign in and answer questions regarding COVID-19 exposure. Certain offices may be closed to the public or subject to limited staffing.

County office status and contact information:

Road Department: Open to the public, subject to social distancing, 620-672-4122,

Appraiser's Office: Closed to the public, appraisers will respond to phone calls and emails, 620-672-4112,

County Clerk: Open to public, subject to social distancing, 620-672-4110,

Register of Deeds: Open to the public, subject to social distancing, 620-672-4140,

County Treasurer: Open to public, subject to social distancing, 620-672-4116,

No driver's licenses or ID cards.

Although several offices remain open to the public, most business with Pratt County can be done by phone or email. Pratt County officials strongly encourages citizens to come to the courthouse only if absolutely necessary. The safety of all citizens and employees of Pratt County is of the utmost importance. Pratt County officials would like to thank everyone for their patience and understanding.

Meetings of the Board of County Commissioners will take place on Mondays at 4 p.m. as regularly scheduled. These meetings remain open to the public as of March 19, but caution is advised.