Downtown Hillsboro has essentially been abandoned as COVID-19 concerns have shut down several businesses due to state requirements.
While the numbers of those impacted by COVID-19, as well as the death rate, continues to climb, there continues to be no known individuals with the virus in Marion County. In order to keep it that way, many in the county are making changes in day to day operations to keep interactions with others to a minimum.
Here are some of the latest changes. As everyday brings more and more changes, please continue to check our website and the KDHE website for the most up to date information.
School Buildings Closed for Remainder of the School Year
On Tuesday, Kansas Governor Laura Kelly announced the closure of all K-12 schools in the state for the remainder of the school year. The closure order was effective immediately and follows consultation with Kansas education officials.
As a result, all Marion County public school buildings will be closed through May 19, 2020. All KSHSAA spring activities, including sports, were canceled.
Most of the districts are still providing essential services, such as serving school meals and supporting continuous learning. Check with your local district office if you have not already been notified regarding meals and be watching for updates regarding continuous learning plans.
Per the Governor’s order, this closure is intended to support social distancing and restrict personal contact. Individuals are encouraged to avoid gatherings larger than ten people.
Hillsboro City Hall closes public doors
According to City Administrator Larry Paine, the public doors to City Hall closed as of 2 p.m. on Friday.
“We are doing this out of precaution for our employees that serve the community. We can’t do this if we are sick. There are a lot of people depending on the work we do. Our action is taken with the view that “flattening the curve” is a real and valid objective. The more we are able to curtail the spread of the coronavirus the sooner we will be able to get back to living as we have in the past,” said Paine.
He went on to explain that for now, there is little need for the public to go to city hall.
“We are between utility billing cycles. We will be asking the public to pay their bills by dropping their payments in the drop box at city hall’s front door. The public can call our office and we can process payment by credit card,” said Paine. “If people have to talk with us, we are encouraging them to call the office first to see if we can resolve issues that way.”
Paine said he cannot say how long they will be closed.
“When we see normalcy happening with the control of the virus. We will take our lead from the CDC, KDHE and the county health officer. We want everyone to remember the things that will control the virus. Be safe, be sane, use good common sense and we will get through this,” said Paine.
Marion closes city offices and buildings to public
Marion is suspending their Community Advisory Board meetings until April 15. They respectfully ask for assistance in “flattening the curve” on the potential spread of COVID-19 as prevention of the disease is the only effective way to treat the potentially life threatening disease. “Shelter at Home” is the most effective prevention method known at this time.
“The City of Marion will undertake the following actions effective 8 a.m. On Tuesday, March 24 until April 15, 2020. We will continue to monitor information and instructions from the CDC, KDHE and Marion County Health officials to determine the date normalized operations will resume. In this period rest assured your city team is committed to keeping the lights on, the water flowing, trash removed and public safety paramount.
“Office staff will be available via phone to address your questions, concerns and needs at 620-382-3703. Utility Emergency Reporting line is staffed 24/7 at 620-382-6671 water/sewer. Utility payments and extension requests can be deposited in the payment drop-boxes near City Hall.
All Municipal Court cases have been extended until May 27, 2020.
“We encourage you to take steps to protect your family and yourself which include: “shelter in place” as much as possible, wash hands with soap and water, avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands, avoid contact with people who are sick, avoid close contact with others and close your mouth/nose with a tissue or sleeve when coughing or sneezing.”
State courts on emergency operations until further order
The Kansas Supreme Court issued Administrative Order 2020-PR-016 directing all district and appellate courts to cease all but emergency operations until further order.
The only exception is jury trials that are currently under way. They may proceed to conclusion, but no other criminal or civil jury trials will be scheduled until further order.
The Supreme Court anticipates the order to remain in effect for at least two weeks, at which time it will be reevaluated.
“This is an extraordinary measure to match the gravity of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Chief Justice Marla Luckert. “We have a duty to protect the people who come into our courthouses and courtrooms, as well as our employees and judges. This action allows courts to fulfill core functions while reducing in-person contact.”
Emergency operations are outlined in the Administrative Order, and generally include:
n determining probable cause for persons arrested without a warrant;
n first appearances;
n bond hearings;
n warrants for adults and juveniles;
n juvenile detention hearings;
n care and treatment emergency orders;
n protection from abuse and protection from stalking temporary orders;
n child in need of care hearings and orders;
n considering petitions to waive notice for abortions by minors;
n commitment of sexually violent predators; and
n isolation and quarantine hearings and orders.
Chief judges of district courts are charged with identifying essential personnel—both judges and employees—needed to fulfill emergency operations.
The Administrative Order also applies to appellate courts, including the Supreme Court. Emergency operations for the appellate courts include:
n Appeals, motions, or original actions arising from the emergency operations of the district court;
n Any other appeal, motion, or original action requiring expeditious resolution.
“It is through our collective action that we will slow COVID-19’s spread,” Luckert said. “The courts will continue to serve the people of Kansas, but in a way that protects all of us.”
The Marion County Board of Commissioners met on Friday and determined that only essential personnel would work on site. They also decided to lock the courthouse at this time except for commission meetings. They will review this decision on Monday, March 30.
Marion County Sheriff’s Office offers assistance in response to COVID-19
In an effort to help service the community and the inability of some to acquire necessary items such as food and medicine, the Marion County Sheriff’s Office is available to assist in delivery of these items to citizens of Marion County. Grocery stores and pharmacies in Marion, Hillsboro and Peabody have been advised of this and will call as we are needed or if you or someone you know needs this service, you can call the Marion County Sheriff’s Office at 620-382-2144 with a request. All orders will be picked up and delivered to your home at no charge. Officers will not transfer funds for these items either from the place of purchase or individual. Please feel free to share to help spread the word.
KCC issues emergency order suspending utility disconnects until April 15
Citing emergency declarations by Governor Laura Kelly, President Donald Trump and the World Health Organization, the Kansas Corporation Commission used its emergency powers to issue an order suspending utility disconnects for nonpayment until April 15. The action, taken in a special meeting this morning, will offer relief to those experiencing potential hardship from the COVID-19 virus.
The directive covers all electrical, natural gas, water and telecommunications utilities under the KCC’s jurisdiction, several of which have already voluntarily suspended disconnects. The Commission also encourages those utilities not under its jurisdiction to enact similar practices.
“COVID-19 is an unprecedented challenge, and Kansans may face unexpected or unusual financial difficulties,” Governor Laura Kelly said. “No one should have to worry about losing utility service needed to ensure public safety, which is why I am bringing every resource to bear to make sure everyone stays safe and healthy. Kansans step up in a time of need, and this is more proof.”
The Commission may elect to extend the suspension order in a subsequent order if conditions warrant.