In the name of safety all three of Garvin County's commissioners have decided changes are needed for the courthouse building in Pauls Valley because of the ongoing COVID-19 emergency.
With the coronavirus threat still at the forefront the trio voted this week not to close the courthouse, but instead set up new rules that still allows the public limited access.
They made it clear the move was made to limit the numbers of people in the building with the hope of containing any potential threat.
“People can still have limited access to the courthouse,” District 2 Commissioner Gary Ayres said. “They can enter through just one door on the west side of the annex.
“We're limiting it all we can,” he said about groups of people being in close proximity to each other.
When visitors do enter through the west annex door they'll be greeted by a county deputy and a metal detector, which is part of the still new security measures put in place for the entire facility.
Each visitor will be screened and given directions about where and when they will be allowed to go to an office in the courthouse.
“Every office will have a box available there on the first floor,” Ayres said.
“If somebody needs to pay a fine they can leave the payment in a box. They can pay taxes by leaving the payment in the box for the treasurer's office.
“If they need a specific question answered they can send just one person up to that office.”
Mike Gollihare, commissioner for District 3 on the east side of the county, says the idea is to keep the courthouse open while limiting groups of people from gathering inside.
“We are trying to control contact,” Gollihare said. “Access will be limited to one person at a time for each office.
“There are some counties that closed their courthouses all the way. We decided to let people have limited access.”
Gollihare, Ayres and District 1 Commissioner Kenneth Holden also want the public to know that even with the coronavirus situation there is still a sense of normalcy when it comes to county government.
“We want people to know business at the courthouse, the sheriff's office and the county yards will be going on as usual,” Gollihare adds.
Another thing staying in place – the courthouse's regular hours of 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays.
Garvin County District Court in the courthouse is among the many around the state planning to cancel a jury trial docket set in April.
It has been suggested other types of court proceedings also be postponed if possible.
What's expected to continue on a daily basis are timely matters, such as arraignments and bond postings for those arrested and charged with a formal accusation.