When the courthouse opens June 15, there will be restrictions

County officials meet in the courthouse basement to go over its Covid-19 policy.

VINTON – Benton County continues to take steps to open up a little more, with restrictions, as it deals with Covid-19. The board of supervisors met in the courthouse in Vinton on Tuesday, June 2, to go over the policy and procedures of opening its facilities.

Emergency Services Director Scott Hansen presented a plan to the board, which includes a purpose statement and guidelines focused on keeping the employees and public as safe as possible. He added there may be some exceptions. They will encourage people to come on an appointment basis, maintain social distancing. The public is encouraged also to use the telephone, websites and e-mail to conduct business.

Other areas covered are working at home, disinfecting offices, court guidelines, check points and health and security screening. Restrooms are closed to the public. Visitors are to go directly to the office they are visiting. Visitors may be required to wear a mask.

Debate was held on how to enforce wearing a mask. Supervisor Chairman Richard Primmer saw wearing a mask as a “necessary evil.” They are trying to protect the employees and the public.

The restrooms in the courthouse are also closed to the public.

Hansen was going to finish writing the draft of the policy, which is to go into effect on June 15. The policy was approved unanimously. The guidelines are listed below.

Parks

For conservation, the county will open up the playgrounds, playground equipment and restrooms. while emphasizing social distancing and hygiene, according to Conservation Director Karen Phelps. This puts Benton County at Level 2 in a three-level scale. She added misters will be used to disinfect the restrooms, shop and offices. This is effective Friday, June 5. The board approved going to Level 2. There was also discussion on how to handle cash. No one directly touches money or envelopes, according to protocols. She also explained the sale and use of firewood.

They hope to be at Level 3 by June 19.

The board met also with Sheriff Ron Tippett and Deputy John Lindeman on how to manage the flow of people when the courthouse opens up, as well as how to handle people at the service center when the food pantry is open.

Other business

Benjamin Weekly and Karsyn Semelroth were approved as part-time correctional officers with the sheriff’s department. They have a beginning wage of $14.92 per hour.

The board approved the secondary roads contract.

Benton County Public Offices Phased Reopening Guidelines

Effective Monday, June 15, 2020

PURPOSE

Due to the current Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic affecting this Country, including Iowa and Benton County, the Benton County Board of Supervisors has established recommended guidelines for reopening of County owned facilities to the public. It is imperative that the business services provided by Benton County government continue to be provided to our citizens, so these guidelines are put in place to reduce the potential risk of exposure to the COVID-19 virus to our employees and visitors. It is important to note that these guidelines do not necessarily represent a sequential series of steps and that thoughtful actions by employees based on situational assessment are required when implementing these guidelines. These guidelines assume, to the extent possible, that County Employees, Department Heads and Elected Officials should:

  • Reduce the vulnerability of employees, citizens, property and facilities to exposure to the COVID-19 virus.
  • Conduct periodic review of actions taken to implement these guidelines and make practical adjustments.

GUIDELINES

All County Offices (some exceptions may apply)

  • Outside entrance door to remain locked and opened to visitors by appointment only.
  • Elected Officials/Department Heads will determine what in-person services will be offered, the number of customers to be assisted within their office at any one time, and how to set up their office to achieve social distancing recommendations. Any services that can be conducted via phone, email, websites, and/or use of the drop boxes will be encouraged.
  • Elected Officials/Department Heads will determine when and where their employees will work. It may be prudent for some employees to work from home on a rotating basis in order to reduce the risk to the entire office
  • Elected Officials/Department Heads will determine the use of personal protective equipment (masks, gloves, shields, sanitizer, etc.) to be used by employees in their office. Counter surfaces, door handles, etc. should be periodically wiped down with disinfectant.
  • Visitors to County buildings will be subject to a health screening and temperature check by staff. Visitors will also be subject to a security screening. Bags, purses, phones, and any other items not needed to conduct business should be left in a locked vehicle.
  • Visitors are required to bring and wear their own mask upon entry into any County facility. The County will have a mask available at the entrances for those visitors that need one. Any visitor refusing to wear a mask will be denied entry.
  • Visitors will be escorted to and from the entrance by employees to the office which they need to conduct business.
  • Restrooms inside County buildings will not be available for visitor use.

**We strongly encourage you to visit our county website for each individual departments contact information and visit various links available to try and limit the amount of visitors to our county buildings!! https://www.bentoncountyiowa.org/

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