Lamar County Judge Brandon Bell also responded to a line of questions from Lamar County Attorney Gary Young, who sought clarification about the intent of the new order, and to concerns expressed by 6th District Judge Wes Tidwell about people without official business entering the courthouse.
“Is this just a recommendation,” Young asked, to which Bell answered in the affirmative.
“So this is no different than where we were but acknowledging we are farther down the road than we hoped we would be,” Young said.
Bell then explained his purpose in recommending the order, a collaboration with health department officials, the county’s emergency management office and others.
“What I am trying to do is avoid Draconian restrictions like you can’t go to church,” Bell said. “I think for the most part, people will follow the recommendations.”
Representing the Courthouse Security Committee and others, Tidwell said he is concerned the recommendation does not include something to restrict courthouse access.
“Because of security folks we have stationed at the north door, we see a lot of folks coming in and out of here that just don’t have official business in this courthouse,” Tidwell said. “They are stopping in for bathroom breaks, glasses of water, soda pops. I don’t bemoan them of that in a typical situation, but I do under this current situation.”
Tidwell reminded commissioners of earlier approval to restrict courthouse entrance to the north door as a security measure. For various reasons that plan has not yet been implemented, he said.
“I think we should close the east and west doors and have just the one entrance,” Tidwell said.
Bell acknowledged Tidwell’s request, but said he would first like to receive input from various departments that would be affected.
“I want to check with security at the door to make sure we are not creating some other type hazard before we take those steps.
Earlier in the roughly 45-minute meeting, Prestridge shared about the health department’s role in monitoring local conditions and the direct connection the department has with state health officials. She also expressed the importance of social distancing and cleanliness in homes, businesses and offices.
Blunt said his office is in daily communication with the health department and works under its guidance. He also shared about an upcoming Facebook site, Lamar County COVID-19 Joint Information Center, which will be updated daily with information.