City of Milbank Offices Closed; Courthouse Closed to Public

  Last Week, the public could access the Grant County courthouse and its offices, but they were asked to stop at a check in station. An emergency meeting of the Grant County Commission on Monday, March 23, changed that when they voted to close the courthouse to the public. The offices are still staffed to provide services to the citizens. 

Both the City of Milbank offices and the Grant County Courthouse are closed to the public. 

 
The doors to the Milbank City offices and visitor center remained locked this week in compliance with the nationwide attempt to curtail the spread of COVID-19. Members of the city staff will continue to work and will be available to the public by calling 605-432-9575 or emailing cityadministrator@itctel.com.
“It is our hope that we will be able to open for regular business in the near future. All other City functions will be operating as normal,” said Mayor Pat Raffety. 
Utility payments can be made by using the dropbox on the west side of the office or online billpay. If neither of those options will work for residents, they are asked to call the office to set up other arrangements. All other city transactions, such as building permits and pet licensing, can be accomplished through a call or an email.
Raffety reported that the city officials researched methods to conduct the meetings of the city council without violating the open meetings laws. “Our number one concern is that the public needs to be able to participate in the meetings,” he noted. The decision was made to conduct the upcoming city council meeting via conference call among the council members and representatives of the city’s departments. A station will be set up in the Milbank Visitor Center for the members of the public who wish to listen. 
The Milbank Area Chamber of Commerce office and the Grant County Development Corporation offices are also closed indefinitely. The community center in the visitor center is not available for rent during this time. 
County officials initially elected to keep the courthouse open for controlled public access to the county offices. Beginning Friday, March 20, everyone who entered the courthouse was asked to stop at the check-in station and state their name and phone number, which are recorded by a county employee. 
The Grant County Commission met in emergency session on Monday, March 23, and voted to close the courthouse to the public. The county offices will be staffed on a rotating basis. The phone numbers and email addresses for the county offices is listed near this story and on the south door of the courthouse. 
“We are encouraging our residents to stay safe, stay home and conduct as much business as they can by email, phone or mail,” Layher said. “We are still here to serve the public, but in a different way than we are used to doing business.” She added that the county officials have installed a dropbox on the south side of the courthouse for the drop-off of anything for any of the courthouse offices, including property tax payments.
The Grant County Commission members have decided to meet by teleconference for the regularly scheduled April meetings. Layher indicated that the group is still working out the public access aspect. 
According to Layher, each county is able to use its discretion in whether to restrict access to the courthouses. Some neighboring counties have closed their courthouses from public access.
Third Circuit Court in Milbank is still scheduled for Tuesday, March 31. 
In a public statement released by Raynelle Mueller, Grant County treasurer, she urged the public to put safety first, for the benefit of themselves and the staff of the courthouse offices. 
“Please stay home if you are ill,” Mueller said. She recommends contacting the treasurer’s office for options that are available to citizens who must have a transfer transaction. She asks that all vehicle license renewals be mailed in, but that  patrons call first, to confirm which vehicles they want to renew and the amount due.  
Likewise, Mueller recommends that real estate tax payments be mailed.  “Feel free to call to confirm amounts due if you prefer,” Mueller said. “Keep in mind if you would like a receipt, enclose a self-addressed stamped envelope for its return just as stated on the back of the tax notice, otherwise your processed check will be your receipt.”
Mueller also asks that if residents are renewing vehicles and paying real estate taxes with the same mailing, that they include one check for the vehicles and a separate check for the real estate taxes.  She recommends the inclusion of a current phone number on the check(s) if officials need to call to confirm information.
The Grant County sheriff’s office is adhering to extremely limited visitation, as stated in last week’s news story.
The Grant County Public Library closed it’s doors to the public beginning March 21 and continuing through at least March 31. All library programming was canceled, including the April 4 breakfast with the bunny program. Librarians will be on staff at the library Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. to take telephone calls and accept return books from the book drop.
Patrons of the library can call in a book list and pick it up in the library parking lot. The library catalog is available online at grantcountylibrary.com. Ebooks and audiobooks are available 24/7 through the Libby/Overdrive with patrons’ library cards. There are many online resources available through the South Dakota State Library at http://library.sd.gov. The library wifi can be accessed while sitting in the parking lot. 
As the current health concerns continue, area officials ask that the public abides by the suggestions by the Centers for Disease Control. “We would ask all residents to be mindful of the steps that health professionals are requesting we all follow to slow down the spread of COVID-19,” Raffety said. “If you do not need to go out then don’t; wash your hands with soap and water for a minimum of 20 seconds; if you are sick, please call the local health officials before going to their offices, and keep yourself isolated as much as possible.”
Layher concluded with a request that despite the isolation, people continue to care for each other. “We just asked that people watch out for each other and help their neighbors, or call us if they see a need so that we can address it.” 
~Holli Seehafer

 

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Grant County Review

Grant County Review
P.O. Box 390
Milbank, SD 57252
(605) 432-4516

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