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COVID-19: Public access restricted

COVID-19 strains claimed 25 lives by press time on March 23, with a total of 620 infected out of 62 Georgia counties. Many local offices and businesses have been closed to the public, including all Pike County governmental offices, the J. Joel Edwards Public Library, the Pike Chamber of Commerce and Pike’s magistrate court. Pike schools will remain closed until April 14 in attempts to prevent the spread of coronavirus. Events have been delayed or cancelled and steps have been taken to protect those in need, including the delaying of power disconnections, foreclosures and evictions while a stimulus package is expected to provide families with funds. Pike County public school teachers will return to the classroom for a work day on April 13. Erin Cook of Southern Rivers Energy announced March 17 that ‘out of consideration for working parents who will likely have to stay home with children or find childcare during school closings, we will not disconnect power on outstanding bills or charge late fees through April 13.’ In connection with the presidentially-declared COVID-19 National Emergency, there will be a foreclosure and eviction moratorium for all USDA Single-Family Housing Guaranteed Loan Program (SFHGLP) loans for a period of 60 days. County manager Ron Alexander announced that county offices will be closed to the public. The upcoming board of commission meeting for Tuesday, March 31 was also cancelled. ’In office operations and services will proceed, and the office will remain fully staffed. However, all county business will need to be conducted by phone, email, or text type correspondences, as the doors will be secured to prevent physical public access into county buildings. Any and all document exchange needs will be done through the use of local mail carrier, or a drop box, Most of the county office currently have drop boxes in use, other office drop boxes will be placed in appropriate locations with respect to that county office,’ said Alexander. ‘All offices will post notices at public entrances advising of the County’s decision and direction to please conduct county business accordingly. External operations such as Public Works and Building and Grounds, are not subject to excessive public contact, and will continue to function as normal. Those external operations personnel are advised to limit public interaction. Public Works will also have a drop box placed near the entrance in which to receive work orders requests, and permit requests. On behalf of the board of commissioners and Pike County staff, I would like to thank all of the great citizens of this county for their understanding and cooperation during these troubling times. Be safe.’ Pike’s Magistrate Court will continue to provide emergency hearings and accept filing in civil actions while practicing social distancing policies. ’We have closed our door to public walk-ins, but will be screening (1) case filings for urgent matters; and then if urgent, for (2) health risks. Our staff remains available by phone and email, preferably; and if necessary, by mail and scheduled appointments,’ said Magistrate Judge Marcia Callway-Ingram. ‘Currently, the courthouse remains open to the public, thus the Public Law Library located at the top of the stairs on the second floor is available. Though that library contains few books, it does contain a computer which we have set up with easy icons for online Magistrate filings, a multifunction machine to aid with printing, copying, scanning, faxing and email options, and a phone for easy contact with our clerks who, for now, continue to be available to answer questions where legally able (they cannot give legal advice).” The J. Joel Edwards Public Library has announced it will remain closed to the public until further notice.  ’The drop box will be locked to prevent entrance of any suspected virus exposures. Library materials are not currently incurring any late fees, so just hold on to them until we are able to receive outside materials again,’ said library manager Rosemary Bunn. ‘Meanwhile, our employees are still reporting to work to provide telephone assistance and to do some much needed materials maintenance and summer prep. For assistance with accounts or questions about materials, call the library at 770-567-2014.’ The Chamber of Commerce has made the decision also suspended public access to the Chamber of Commerce offices effective March 20.  ’The Chamber will continue to be staffed and operating but all correspondence will be conducted via phone, email  or other messaging options,’ said Carol Perry. ‘We will continue to support our members and share information to you as it is made available. Thank you for your patience and understanding during these unprecedented times.’Â  The Pike County tax commissioner’s office announced they will be closed to the public and walk-in customers from March 19-27. Office staff will continue to answer all phone calls, mail items, process online tag renewals and online payments. Call the office for more information at 770-567-2001.’ The Pike County Sheriff’s Office released the following information: ”We have dealt with communicable diseases for years and we are taking necessary precautions as with any other communicable disease. The jail medical staff are taking necessary precautions such as screening of new inmates and continuous preventative disinfecting measures. Protocols are in place should an employee or inmate be diagnosed by a medical professional as having a communicable disease,” said sheriff Jimmy Thomas. “This virus is not an excuse for lawlessness. During these difficult times, panic is not a solution. Prayer for this great nation is what can guide us. I want to thank all law enforcement, emergency services personnel and health care professionals both locally and across our nation for their dedication and willingness to serve under these difficult circumstances. Together we will overcome these obstacles and continue to protect and serve.” CANCELLED: ’¢ Candidate’s Meet and Greet set for March 21 has been postponed by the Antioch AME Church Action Committee. ’¢ Pike County Chamber’s Business After Hours and Ribbon Cutting for Tuesday, March 24, will be rescheduled.

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