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Many Local Offices Close Shutdown In-Person Visits But Continue To Provide Basic Services

(Photo: Robert Moore, the Harrodsburg Herald) The thrift store at the Christian Life Center on Main Street is closed, but the center still continues to accept food donations and to distribute the food to those in need.

Robert Moore

Herald Staff

Mercer Judge-Executive Milward Dedman announced that all county government offices will be closed to in-person contact on Tuesday, March 17.

In a press release, Dedman said county employees will still come to work and offices will remain open; however, the courthouse, animal shelter, recycling center and county road department will close to the public for the duration of this event. The transfer station will remain open at this time.

“We have made this decision based on the governor’s lead, and due to the importance of preventing the spread of infection not only to our employees, but to help limit the spread of infection into the community,” Dedman said.

The County Clerk’s Office,  the Property Valuation Administrator’s office and the Mercer County Sheriff’s Office will be closed to public visits until further notice, Dedman said. For full details on how to contact county offices, visit the Harrodsburg Herald’s website.

Government officials at every level continue to take action to slow the spread of the coronavirus—also known as COVID-19.

All of Kentucky’s 172 school districts as well as the Kentucky School for the Blind and Kentucky School for the Deaf are closed. While colleges, including Campbellsville University-Harrodsburg, Bluegrass Community and Technical College and Center College, will remain open, instruction will continue through online or other alternative teaching methods.

Last week, Campbellsville President Michael V. Carter announced the university was suspending face-to-face until March 27. According to a press release, classes for degree programs will be delivered online while technology certificate classes, such as cosmetology, barbering and allied health, would be determined on a case-by-case basis.

In addition, restaurants, stores, churches, healthcare facilities and government offices are either closing, cutting hours or restricting how they interact with the public.

Since declaring a state of emergency on Friday, March 6, Gov. Andy Beshear has closed all state prisons to visitors, recommended the temporary closure of senior centers, activated the State Health Operations Center and the State Emergency Operations Center, suspended out-of-state travel for state employees and ordered state agencies to allow telecommuting to decrease on-site staffing by up to 50 percent. He has also forbade in-person meetings at government agencies.

In his daily press conferences, the governor has frequently called it our “patriotic duty” to prevent the spread of COVID-19 by avoiding crowds. Other local government offices have followed suit. The City of Harrodsburg created pick-up zones in front of local restaurants Monday.

While city workers remain on the job, the city offices in Harrodsburg and Burgin have also been closed to walk-in traffic. In Burgin, payments may be made by mail, over the phone or through the drop box. Anyone with questions can call 859-605-9652.

In Harrodsburg, payments are being handled either online, at the drop box or at the walk-up window located on Short Street. Anyone with questions can call 734-2383.

The Lake Village Water Association/Mercer County Sanitation District is also handling payments either through the drop box or over the phone. Anyone with questions can call 236-9505.

Local Courts

Local courts have also pushed back their dockets. Following an order from the Kentucky Supreme Court, Judge Darrin Peckler of the Mercer Circuit Criminal Court will hear cases on Tuesday, April 21, at 9 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Mercer Circuit Civil Court will hear civil cases on Wednesday, April 22, at 9 a.m., 11 a.m. and at 1:30 p.m. for pretrial conferences.

Except for emergencies, arraignments, pretrial conferences, preliminary hearings, Casey’s Law proceedings, juvenile hearings, probates, evictions, small claims, guardianships and mental health cases at District Criminal and Civil Court under Judge Jeff Dotson will be heard beginning Monday, April 13.

People who are incarcerated, all arraignments, preliminary hearings, evidentiary hearings, bond motions and probation violation hearings will all be conducted by video, according to a message on the door at the Mercer County Judicial Center.

Except for emergencies, trials scheduled to be heard at Mercer Family Court under Judge Bruce Petrie are cancelled and will resume on Monday, April 13. People who were scheduled to appear before April 10 will be notified of their new court date by mail.

For more information, call the Mercer Circuit Court Clerk’s Office at 734-8452.

Local Agencies

The Mercer County Cooperative Extension Office has closed public meetings.

The Mercer County Public Library has also closed.   Library Director Robin Ison said she and her staff are working to provide some substitute services. Within the week the library will have a temporary “pick-up” window open from 9 a.m.–4 p.m. The pick-up window will be located on the parking lot side of the building, before the sliding doors.  Patrons must first phone the library and request items (maximum of six) they wish to check out.  Books can be returned at the book drop, which is located beside the Bookmobile parking bay. While the library is closed, fines will not be assessed and items are due back by April 16. This time will be extended if needed.

WiFi at the library will be available outside the building from 9 a.m.–10 p.m. The library parking lot is also being used each weekday as a serving site for Mercer County schools Free Lunch program. Sack lunches will be available Monday through Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Call the library at 734-3680 for information, updates and additional services.

The thrift store at the Christian Life Center is closed. Food will be given out Monday through Friday from 9–11 a.m. and 1–3 p.m.

Local Hospitals

Patients at Ephraim McDowell Regional Medical Center, Ephraim McDowell Fort Logan Hospital and Ephraim McDowell James B. Haggin Hospital have been restricted to one visitor per patient. Anyone entering the hospital will be screened and their temperature will be taken. Visitors who have a fever will not be allowed to enter.

Visitors 80 years old and above and those 12 and younger are restricted from visiting patients at all McDowell hospitals. Overnight visits are currently not allowed, with the exception of births, passing patients, patient sitters and those who are power of attorney or health care surrogates for a patient.

Local Stores And Attractions

While Walmart has reduced their hours to 6 a.m. to 11 p.m., most other stores are still open their regular hours.

Old Fort Harrod State Park is open. According to Gil Lawson, the information officer with Kentucky State Parks, the park will remain open, but all events that would draw a crowd, including the annual Easter Egg hunt and the clean up day, are cancelled through the end of April.

The museum at Old Fort Harrod will open in April and the gift shop will be open during normal business hours.

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