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Virus closes courthouse, leads to local state of emergency

The Franklin County Commission had an emergency meeting Friday to declare a state of emergency in Franklin County because of the COVID-19 virus and temporarily close the Franklin County Courthouse.

The courthouse will be closed to the public from March 23 until April 3. After April 3, the county commission will re-evaluate based on the situation.

“We are going to try to conduct business as much as we can,” said Probate Judge and Commission Chairman Barry Moore. “It is an inconvenience to everyone; no matter what kind of background you come from, it has affected everyone. We just ask the citizens and the employees to be patient with us. We have to make the best decisions we can with what we information we have.”

Employees in the courthouse will continue to work, with each department head being in charge of how operations run. Employees will be available by phone to help anyone trying to fill out a form online, and paperwork can be sent to the courthouse through the mail.

The probate judge’s office will not continue to issue the star licenses to citizens every Monday during this time. To do this, citizens will need to travel to the license office in Sheffield or Hamilton.

The Franklin County Commission also declared a state of local emergency at the meeting. This will allow the commission to make decisions to keep the county running smoothly without calling an official meeting.

“One thing we want to stress: Yes, this is a declaration of emergency, but we want people and the citizens of the county to be calm,” Moore said.

Franklin County Commissioner Jason Miller said in this difficult time, he has an increased appreciation for those who are continually working to serve the public.

“I just want to say how thankful I am for all of the first responders and nurses and any other necessary personnel for the hard work they have put in during this time,” Miller said.