STARKE COUNTY—The Starke County Commissioners recently passed an executive order which temporarily closes all County offices and related facilities to the public until further notice.
The closure is a measure that’s been put in place to help combat the severe threat to public health and safety posed by COVID-19. It applies to all members of the public but not authorized personnel, which includes current employees, staff, officials, consultants and contractors.
According to the order, County business will continue during the closure but the public is asked to conduct business and communicate with County personnel without personally entering buildings or facilities. At this time, telephone, emails, US mail, and teleconferencing are strongly encouraged.
The order goes on to say that in exceptional circumstances, members of the public may be allowed into County offices for a personal meeting but only by prior appointment.
The special appointments will be at the discretion of the elected officials or department head and will only be allowed if the matter is urgent and cannot be conducted through electronic or paper communications. It’s noted that such conditions are extraordinary and should not be routinely granted.
The order is applicable to most executive and administrative functions of the County, with the exception of the judicial branch, which is under the supervision of the Starke Circuit Court, and the Starke County Sheriff’s Department, which is under the supervision of the Sheriff. Each of those entities have shared or will provide information related to their associated facilities.
The order took effect upon its passage during the Commissioner’s meeting on Tuesday, March 17 and will remain in effect until further notice. An associated notice will be posted at each entrance of all county buildings impacted by the order.
In addition to passing the executive order, the Commissioners also approved temporary operational policies for county employees.
The document indicates that the policies were created to allow officials to take all necessary and proper measures to ensure the health, safety, well being of citizens and employees while simultaneously ensuring that the essential functions entrusted to the County government continue.
The approved policies will be provided to most County employees, with the exception of those working in the judicial system. Applicability to the Sheriff’s Department and the EMS Department are subject to the Sheriff and the EMS Executive Director, respectively.
Commissioner Bryan Cavender commended Starke County Attorney Martin Lucas for the work he put into preparing the executive order and the policies. The other Commissioners echoed that sentiment and expressed appreciation to Lucas for being available for questions over the phone.