LUSK – May 19 couldn’t come fast enough for many people.
That was the day the county officially reopened their courthouse for the public. While some may question if it is too soon, the majority of residents feel it was time.
Niobrara County never fully closed to business during the most restrictive time of the COVID-19 social distancing measures. They continued, as many counties did, to provide all the services they could. With the exception of fingerprinting and VIN inspections, business continued via mail and curbside services. Niobrara County was fortunate no staff were ill or diagnosed with the novel coronavirus, so could continue to be fully staffed during that time.
Commissioners and County Clerk Becky Freeman had originally aimed to have the building open by May 18. But delays in protection measures pushed this date to the next day.
The courthouse has opened with some restrictions in place, including plexiglass shields at service counters, reminders that only one person at a time should be at the window and a request on their doors that if you are ill or running a fever to please not enter the building.
Clerk of Court Chrisanna Lunde said the court room will be reopened for limited numbers for now. Attendees are encouraged to observe social distancing practices with a minimum of 6-feet between them.
District court had continued to take place via Hub, a service similar to Zoom. Circuit Court had continued to hear civil matters and is anticipated to begin resuming regular court dates.
The jail is now open for fingerprinting services as well.
County Commissioners have been cautiously optimistic in all decisions made regarding the actions taken for the county buildings. They were among the most timely in response to recommendations for shut down of buildings and have continued to monitor and hold weekly meetings to determine if county officials and residents are on the same page and the next steps necessary.
Masks and gloves are not required to enter the building, though as always, if someone would like to wear them, they are not prohibited. Pens for general use are no longer available at the counter, so customers need to make sure they bring their own pens.
County officials continue to be conscious of health concerns and needs of both customers and employees in every decision they make and will work with the county health officer going forward to ensure they are able to continue to serve the public while following health guidelines.