Union County supervisors locking doors to all offices

Union County Board of Supervisors President Randy Owen talks about measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus,
March 23rd, 2020     Featured Government & Politics

Additional restrictions imposed on access to Union County buildings

The Union County Board of Supervisors has further restricted access to county buildings to help protect employees and the public from the spread of the coronavirus. “The doors to the courthouse will be locked,” board president Randy Owen said, “along with those of other county offices.”

Earlier restrictions proved inadequate

New Albany MS County buildings locked

Union County Courthouse is closed

The county board imposed restrictions on access to county offices a week ago, but those restrictions proved inadequate. Under the earlier policy, people could enter the courthouse, but the doors of individual offices were locked. However, Owen said he talked with Union County Tax Assessor-Collector Tameri Dunnam, who reported 400 people came to her office this past week. “But only 40 of those visits were necessary,” he said.

On Friday, March 21, the Mississippi Department of Health confirmed the first COVID-19 case on Union County.

County offices will still be staffed; in-person meetings will be strictly limited

County offices will continue to be staffed on a skeleton-crew basis with employees rotated every few days. “That way if anyone gets sick we maybe won’t have everyone in that office sick,” Owen said.

Owen said that, like business with New Albany city officials, most county business can be conducted by phone, on-line or by mail. If an in-person meeting is required, it can be set up.

How to contact individual county departments

“April 1 is the deadline to file for Homestead Exemption and some people may need to get something from the chancery clerk’s office, so they can get an appointment,” Owen said. That number is 662-534-1900.

On needs involving property taxes, vehicle tags, titles, mobile homes or Homestead Exemption, the county collector’s office should be called at 662-534-1972.

Anyone who needs to contact the circuit clerk’s office concerning passports, marriage licenses, fines or need of a notary public should call 662-534-1910.

Anyone who needs to talk with county supervisors is asked to call 662-534-1902. This is also true for the E-911 office. Owen said anyone who needs to get an address may call for an appointment to set the address up.

Access to officials in other county buildings

New Albany MS county museum pioneer village

The Union County Heritage Museum and the Jennie  Stephens Smith Library are closed.

Owen said the Mississippi Department of Human Services food stamp office will be closed, but appointments can be made. The number to call is 662-534-1984.

The Union County Justice Court office will be closed and only emergency paperwork will be handled. All justice court cases, except for protection orders and preliminary hearings, are being postponed. Fines can be paid online or by mail. Anyone with questions should call 662-534-1951.

“Or course court has to go on and the jail can’t be helped,” Owen said. Though he added that the staff is being extra-vigilant in guarding against contagion. “We have 75 in jail and they are taking precautions,” he said. “If the officers get sick the New Albany Police Department said they would help. We will also have the school resource officers helping the sheriff’s office if needed.”

Owen says people are not taking social isolation advice seriously enough

Owen said most people are trying to be cooperative with efforts to keep everyone safe, but noted many are still not taking the advice to stay at home seriously. “I drove by Wal-Mart Friday, and it was like Christmas Eve,” he said. Owen noted that several smaller churches in the county were still holding in-person services. “My opinion is if people would listen to the Centers for Disease Control and State Health Department, maybe we all would get through this a lot easier,” he said.

“You plan for the worst and hope for the best, or maybe you should say pray for the best,” he said.

He hopes the panic buying will stop, and also something can be worked out to help individuals and local businesses before it leads to trouble. “If you’re broke and need something bad enough, you’ll just get it,” he said.

“We’re trying to stay ahead of the situation, but it is changing every day,” he said, adding that any new information will be provided to the public as soon as possible.

Road maintenance and garbage service will continue

County road maintenance will continue, Owen said. “The road department is pretty well isolated and there’s only a few people there at a time.”

“And garbage service will continue,” Owen added. That’s something we are concerned about the guys doing.” He said that if things get bad enough the county might be able to place Dumpster-type containers around the county and ask people to take their garbage to them as was done years ago. However, Owen stressed that the county is nowhere near that point yet.

Museum and library will remain closed

The Union County Heritage Museum will remain closed until further notice. Owen said interns will be working on projects remotely for now. The Union County Library System also will remain closed until further notice. Those with materials checked out will not face late charges.

Veterans service office available by phone

Owen said that Veterans Service Officer Michael Bennett will be working out of his home while the courthouse is closed. Bennett said in an email, “I am conducting telephone interviews from my home between the hours of 8 a.m. until 3 p.m. on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of each week.  A veteran or a family member can call me (662-317-0216) and I will assist in gathering the necessary information to begin processing a new claim or working on an existing claim.” Bennett says if he does not answer, please leave your name and phone number and he will return your call as soon as possible. “Even from my home as in my office, I will not be able to answer any personal details concerning a claim that is pending.  The veteran or survivor of a veteran will have to call the VA Regional Office direct (1-800-827-1000) with a request for such details. There is a recorded menu service for you to follow.  You will need the following information before you begin to call:  veteran’s full name, date of birth, social security number, branch of service. It is my duty and pleasure to serve Union County veterans and their families. Don’t hesitate to call me if I can be of assistance.  Even if you are not a veteran and you know of one who is in need of assistance, please call me.”

County extension office personnel working, but access limited

The Union County Extension Office is operated by Mississippi State University, but the doors are locked.  People who need to deal with the extension office should call County Agent Gina Wills at 662-534-1916.

 

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