Pike County Times

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PO Box 843, Zebulon, Georgia 30295. You can donate through PayPal by clicking here. Becky Watts: Phone # 770-468-7583 editor(@)pikecountytimes.com
 
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BREAKING NEWS: Pike County Offices to Close to Public Access Beginning on Friday, March 20; Some Offices of Elected Officials Will Remain Open
By Editor Becky Watts

ZEBULON - County Manager Ron Alexander wrote a letter regarding the closure of public offices in Pike County earlier today. An accompanying public notice was given to all offices to hang on their doors and a notice was sent out about the cancellation of the next night meeting at the end of the month. [Note from the Editor: Many offices of elected officials like the Sheriff, judges, etc. are not closed. More on that below.]

The Public Notice reads as follows: "There have been “possible cases” of the COVID-19 virus reported in a few jurisdictions which border Pike County. Pike County Government will suspend “Public Access” to ALL county offices effective Friday, March 20, 2020 until further notice to help ensure the health and safety of the public and our employees. All county business will need to be conducted by telephone, email or text type correspondences. Each office will remain fully staffed to handle all needs of the citizens. Please visit www.pikecoga.com to obtain Department Phone Numbers and Email Addresses.

County Meetings

The emailed notification regarding the cancellation of the night meeting reads as follows: "The Pike County Board of Commissioners has cancelled their regular scheduled Tuesday, March 31, 2020, 6:30 p.m. meeting, to be held at Courthouse, Main Courtroom, 16001 Barnesville Street, Zebulon, Georgia." All further schedules for the Board of Commissioners will be advised to the commissioners and the public by the County Clerk.

County Offices

County Manager Alexander noted in his letter that in officer operations and services will continue and offices will remain fully staffed; however, all county business "will need to be conducted by phone, email, or text type correspondences" since public access will no longer be allowed in Pike County offices. All exchanges of physical documents need to be by a drop box or through the mail.

Most of the offices in the county already have a drop box, but for those that do not, directions will be given as to how to deliver physical documents to the correct office through either existing or new drop boxes. "All offices will post notices at "public entrances" advising of the County's decision and direction to please conduct county business accordingly.

External operations that are not subject to excessive contact with the public such as Public Works and Building and Grounds will continue to function according to their normal routine. He cautioned these personnel to limit public interaction for safety reasons as well. Public Works will have a drop box placed at the entrance in which to receive requests for work orders and requests for permits. The public can call the office at 770-567-2005 to place a work order for roads.

He noted that Pike County is acting in the interest of county personnel safety as well as the safety of citizens here in our county, and that the county is following the lead of neighboring counties that are also acting in the interest of safety. The suspension of public access will begin on Friday, March 20, 2020 which is tomorrow.

"Please know that the Pike County Government understands these precautionary measures will be an inconvenience to the normal flow of county services. As such, normal access will be restored as soon as it is safe to do so," he said. "On behalf of the Board of Commissioners and the Pike County Staff, I would like to thank all of the great citizens of this county for their understanding and cooperation during these troubling times. Be Safe."

The Courthouse and All Constitutional Departments

Constitutional Officers are those who are directly elected by the public such as the Sheriff, Court Judges, the Tax Commissioner, and the District Attorney. These offices are open or closed independent of what the county chooses to do with its offices. Here is a rundown of these offices and the information that is available at this time. [Note from the Editor: Many thanks to these elected officials and/or those from the various offices who spoke to me by text or phone after 5 p.m. today. Thank you for your dedication and for taking the time to speak with me!]

District Attorney's Office

The DA's Office is open to the public. However, face to face contact such as speaking to an attorney is by appointment only. Please call 770-567-2020 for further information.

Magistrate Court

Magistrate Court is still staffed; however, there are some specifics that go along with this. Click here to find out the specifics. Please call the office at 770-567-2004 if you have questions further questions. [Note from the Editor: This section on Magistrate was updated on 3.20.20.]

Probate Court

Traffic Court has been postponed until May 27. However, the office is still staffed and open to the public. Please call 770-567-8734 for more information.

Tax Commissioner's Office

The Pike County Tax Commissioner's Office is closed to the public as of today. Please refer to this article from yesterday which tells how to conduct business with the office. The office is staffed, and those with questions can call 770-567-2001 for further information.

Superior Court

I spoke with Superior Court Clerk Pam Thompson who advised that Superior Court is open at this time and that they are planning to remain open. She advised that they are encouraging people to call first if possible so that help can be given by phone, fax, or email if possible. You can reach Superior Court by calling 770-567-2000.

Sheriff's Office

Pike County Times spoke to Sheriff Jimmy Thomas and was advised that the Sheriff's Office is running normal operations at this time. You can reach the Sheriff's Office by calling 770-567-8431.

The J. Joel Edwards Public Library, The Transfer Station/Recycling Center, and Environmental Health

The J. Joel Edwards Public Library is part of a regional and state library system in Georgia so their operating hours can vary from that of the county. The Transfer and Recycling Center is contracted with Wayne Harper to provide this service.

J. Joel Edwards Public Library Is Closed; No Returning of Items at This Time

For the safety of our patrons and staff, the J. Joel Edwards Public Library is closed to the public until further notice. The drop box will be locked to prevent entrance of any suspected virus exposures. LIBRARY MATERIALS ARE NOT CURRENTLY INCURRING ANY LATE FEES, so just hold on to them until we are able to receive outside materials again.

Meanwhile, our employees are still reporting to work to provide telephone assistance and to do some much needed materials maintenance and summer prep. For assistance with accounts or questions about materials, please call the library Monday through Friday, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at 770-567-2014. The library staff will not be reporting on Saturdays.

Transfer Station Is Open But Recycling Center Is Not; Everything Must Be Buried

Recycling has been halted at the Transfer Station until the threat of COVID-19 has passed. All items must be buried with the trash. Click here for more information and to read this article in full.

Pike County Parks and Recreation Authority Closes Park to Public Access and Postpones Opening Day

The Pike County Parks and Recreation Authority (PCPRA) released a notification tonight that the park including the walking track, playground, and ball fields are now closed to public access. Opening Day is also postponed indefinitely at this time. Click here for more. [Note from the Editor: This section on PCPRA was added on 3.20.20.]

Pike County Chamber of Commerce Closes Public Access

The Pike County Chamber of Commerce has suspended public access to the office as of today following the precautionary measures regarding the COVID-19 virus set in place for Pike County offices yesterday. Carol Perry advised that the Chamber "will continue to be staffed and operating but all correspondence will be conducted via phone, email or other messaging options. We will continue to support our members and share information to you as it is made available. Thank you for your patience and understanding during these unprecedented times." [Note from the Editor: This section on the Chamber of Commerce was added on 3.20.20.]

Pike County School System

Governor Brian P. Kemp issued Executive Order 03.26.20.02 closing public elementary and secondary schools for in-person instruction through April 24, 2020. Students may return to school on Monday, April 27, 2020. Click here to read that article. [Note from the Editor: This section on the school system was updated on 3.27.20.]

Pike County Extension Office Closes Public Access

The Pike County Extension Office is officially closed to the public for walk-in assistance. However, we are still serving the needs of the Pike County community. To this end, Extension personnel are available via email, phone, and Facebook messenger.

• Office: 770.567.2010 or uge2231@uga.edu
• Agriculture and Soil/Water Testing: Brooklyne Wassel 678.588.3153 or brooklyne.wassel@uga.edu
• 4-H: Penny Cosper 770.584.8841 or pennyc@uga.edu
• Administration: Ashley Harman 706.302.9097 or aedavis@uga.edu

Please be sure to leave a message if we are unable to answer your call, and we will be sure to get back to you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your patience and understanding as we strive to keep our community safe and healthy. [Note from the Editor: This section on the Pike County Extension Office was added on 3.26.20.]

strong>Pike County Office of Planning & Development Cancels Upcoming Meetings

Director Brad Vaughan from the Pike County Office of Planning & Development issued the following statement: Due to CDC guidelines regarding public gatherings, the following meetings have been cancelled for the month of April from the office of Planning & Development: April 9th, 2020 – Planning Commission – NO MEETING and April 16th, 2020 – Board of Appeals – NO MEETING. All pending agenda items will be postponed until it is possible to gather for a regularly scheduled meeting.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact our office at 770-567-2007.[Note from the Editor: This section on the Planning and Development was added on 3.27.20.]

Closing

COVID-19 is a disease that was first identified in Wuhan, China and has spread throughout the world--including here in Georgia. The Georgia Department of Public Health is encouraging the public to use the following precautions to help prevent the spread of this virus and other infectious diseases:

· Wash your hands often with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
· Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
· Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
· Stay home when you are sick.
· Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
· Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

For further information on COVID-19, please go to Georgia Department of Public Health or to the Centers for Disease Control.


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3.19.20
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