Courthouse opens back up with restrictions
By Ken Childers
It’s official. The Okfuskee County Courthouse is once again open to the public, albeit with several rules and restrictions in place.
In its regular meeting Tuesday morning, the Okfuskee County Board of County Commissioners approved a resolution to reopen the courthouse, which had been closed to the public since March 19 due to the coronavirus pandemic. The resolution went into effect immediately.
Per the resolution, only the north entrance is open and each person entering the courthouse must wear a face covering and complete a COVID-19 screening. An answer of “yes” to any question during screening or a fever of 100 degrees or higher will result in denial of entrance to the courthouse.
The resolution also states that anyone who has a scheduled court appearance must return to their vehicle and wait until they are called by the bailiff or other designated person and told it is their turn. An Oklahoma Supreme Court order limits the number of people in a courtroom to 10.
In addition, the resolution mandates that anyone with business in the courthouse other than with the courts must phone that office and obtain permission to enter. This is to avoid overcrowding and to determine whether the business can be taken care of by other means, such as fax or email.
Courtrooms are not yet open, but some appearances are being handled via videoconferencing. According to Okfuskee County Sheriff Jim Rasmussen and Assistant District Attorney Albert “Kell” Kelly, videoconferencing began Tuesday using the “BlueJeans” platform. BlueJeans Network is a company that provides a cloud-based video conferencing service that connects participants across a wide range of devices and conferencing platforms.
Other board actions
Also during Tuesday’s meeting, the board voted to accept checks totaling $107.83 from various carriers for E-911 fees collected and approved a detention transportation claim for the month of April in the amount of $171.80. In addition, a Xerox lease agreement for the drug court at a rate of $41.77 per month was approved.
The board also approved an affidavit of non-collusion, verification of payment and closeout certification for 2019-2020 REAP Fund #15 (District 3) in the amount of $45,000. A claim for election board secretary salary expenses for May in the amount of $2,958.19 was also approved.
Other board actions taken include the approval of $27,220 in blanket purchase orders for supplies, shale, gravel and parts. Claims for items purchased totaling $27,983.14 were also approved.
The board typically meets each Monday at 9 a.m. on the first floor of the courthouse. All board meetings are open to the public, subject to the COVID-19 restrictions that are currently in place.