PREBLE COUNTY — The Preble County Courthouse is still open to the public, but many offices have set their own procedures on how they would like to protect their staff and the public they serve during the COVID-19 crisis.
The Preble County Commissioners released a letter on March 20 which read, “To the citizens of Preble County, During these uncertain times, we want to assure you that we are dedicated to the safety and wellness of everyone in our community. We are taking the directives from Governor Mike DeWine regarding the COVID-19 virus very seriously. In addition to promoting good hygiene practices, we are taking precautions in the courthouse by implementing added cleaning/disinfecting measures, and encouraging social distancing and self isolation, when possible.
“We want to make everyone aware of the availabilities of your local government offices, and strongly encourage only those who have essential business to visit the courthouse in person. Unless listed below, all business will continue as usual for the offices within the Preble County Courthouse. This information is current as of Friday, March 20, but subject to change due to the fluidity of the situation.
“The following offices in the courthouse have modified access to the public, but are all still available via phone or email:
•Auditor & Treasurer’s Office — Closed to the public. A shared, secured drop box is available for business items at the security desk, located inside the front entrance of the courthouse.
•Board of Elections — Closed to the public. A secured drop box is available for business items at the security desk, located inside the front entrance of the courthouse.
•Prosecuting Attorney’s Office — Urgent business may still be conducted in person, but with limited access. Civil Division offices will be locked, with visitors directed to the main office lobby.
•Victim Witness Office — Closed to the public. Only emergency business, protection orders, and court hearings will continue as scheduled.
“The following county offices outside of the courthouse have modified access:
•Engineer’s Office — Closed until April 6. Critical and time sensitive functions will continue in reduced capacities. Office employees are available via email and phone. Emergencies will be dealt with swiftly and will not affect the safety of the public’s ability to travel throughout the county.
•Job and Family Services Department — The agency will be closed to the public. The drop box at the main entrance is available for use and will be checked throughout the day.
Contact a JFS staff member if you experience a crisis that we may be able to help with.
Customers wishing to apply for SNAP/Medicaid?OWF or report changes will be asked to do so online, by phone, or by paper application. There will not be any face to face interviews.
Customers wishing to access OhioMeansJobs-Preble County services will be able to do this online.
Child Support administrative hearings will be conducted by phone. You will be given instructions by mail on steps that will need to be taken for the hearing to take place.
Customers will be able to apply for emergency assistance by phone to assist with utilities, shelter costs, etc.
Those required for the work program to receive their benefits are excused until further notice.
Children Services and Adult Protective Services will continue to investigate reports of abuse and neglect and will respond accordingly. They will have some field safety steps to follow to assist in keeping everyone safe.
Children Services will conduct face to face visits with all children via electronic method such as FaceTime if appropriate to ensure safety. Some in person visits for those most vulnerable will continue.
•Sheriff’s Office — The Sheriff’s Office is operating under normal conditions, providing patrol service and answering calls for services. All staff members are working under specific protocols for the protection of employees and our facility. Visitation at the jail has been eliminated, under order of the state. The lobby remains open for families to place money on financial accounts of inmates and to interact with staff. If you have questions specifically related to the Sheriff’s Office, please contact our non-emergency numbers. As always, if you have an emergency, please dial 9-1-1.
“The health and safety of the Preble County residents is our top priority, and we are working to serve you as best we can.”
The letter is signed by the Board of Preble County Commissioners.
At time of press, Veteran Services Director Cole French added, “Veteran Services is closed to the public, but still reporting to the office for normal hours [and] still providing all services to any veteran in need.”