Courthouse reopening

A whiteboard prepared by Judge-Executive Wade White shows the plan for reopening Lyon County Courthouse on Monday.

The addition of glass partitions in government offices and careful social distancing could see Lyon County Courthouse reopen Wednesday during Kentucky’s initial phase of lifting COVID-19 restrictions.

Judge-Executive Wade White said glass dividers are scheduled to be installed this week in the high-traffic courthouse offices of sheriff and county clerk, allowing for the first step in a gradual return to normal for county government. White and County Attorney Lee Wilson will also be opening up to limited traffic.

“We are opening the courthouse, but it’s Phase 1,” White warned. “It’s not swinging the doors open and doing things like normal.”

He is still encouraging residents of the county to conduct any business they can through phone, email, mail or online.

“We understand there are some functions that need to be done here,” White said. “But if you are sick or susceptible, you need to stay home.”

The opening does not include the PVA office or any functions in the adjoining justice center, including the circuit clerk’s office. Both offices have or will have glass partitions, but each is guided by state directives and are expected to remain closed to in-person traffic through at least the end of May.

The idea, White said, is to provide a layer of separation for customers and staff in the two busiest offices in the courthouse. The glass will separate the sides of counters, offering an opening a few inches above the counter tops to allow paperwork and materials to be passed underneath. The judge-executive said many courthouses in the area already had offices with similar window procedures.

White said all offices were in agreement with the cautious approach to reopening.

“Everybody here was on board, so I was glad to see it,” he said.

Initially, Sheriff Brent White and County Clerk Lori Duff plan to limit customers in the office to only a couple at a time, with only two or three allowed to congregate in the hallway in order to offer proper social distancing. Longer lines would be asked to separate outside, maintaining a proper distance.

“We’re hoping there’s not a mad rush,” White said, urging people to self-police the exercise of proper precautions. “We’re going to be watching pretty close. If they don’t, we’ll see what steps we need to take … sort of play it by ear.”

Courthouse offices can offer curbside help, too, if customers do not want to enter the building. Just call the respective office to ask for help.

The sheriff’s office will begin conducting vehicle inspections, but owners will need to call the office ahead for instructions on what to do.

The restrooms inside the facility will be for emergency use only by the public, as courthouse employees utilize those facilities throughout the day.

Cleaning and sanitizing will be increased, too. White said the building is cleaned each night, but an additional part-time person is being hired to keep things sanitized throughout the day.

“All this is contingent upon glass partitions,” White said of the phased-in return to in-person traffic, adding that construction problems would likely delay the reopening.