Trio to conduct county’s day-to-day business
By DON FLETCHER
News Staff Writer
Escambia County (Ala.) Commissioners took several steps last week — including closing the county courthouse in Brewton and the satellite courthouse in Atmore — to meet the social distancing and other suggestions issued by local, state and national health officials in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
Commission Chairman Karean Reynolds confirmed that commissioners held an emergency meeting on Tuesday, March 17, specifically to address the COVID-19 situation. All county elected officials attended the meeting, and each provided key input that aided the commission in its decisions, Reynolds said.
Commissioners voted unanimously to declare a state of emergency and approved the closure of all Escambia County facilities through April 5.
Only agencies, departments and other services deemed essential will remain open. These include the sheriff’s office, county jail, emergency management agency, county commission and administration, ECATS, Agency on Aging and road department-engineering.
In another move to maintain the “social distancing” portion of health warnings, commissioners authorized Reynolds, vice-chair Brandon Smith and County Administrator Tony Sanks to “execute the necessary contracts, agreements and other documents necessary for the continuity of government” in lieu of regular commission meetings.
Reynolds said any new information concerning reopening of the courthouse would be distributed to local media for release, and additional announcements will be made as new information becomes available.
“It all happened so fast, we all had to learn a lot about this virus and its effects in less than three days,” the commission chairman said. “There is so much information being released by several entities on a daily basis. It’s unheard of, but I do understand the goal.”
Smith stressed that the April 6 target date for reopening county facilities was not set in stone.
“We keep hearing about April 6, but we’re not going to wake up on April 6 and this thing be gone,” Smith said. “But at some point, we’ve got to get back to business. I don’t know if we’ll be able to go back to full-staff — we might have skeleton crews in some places — but at the end of the April 6 deadline, we’ll revisit this and go from there.”
Despite the courthouse closings, commissioners provided contact numbers for most county officials in case individuals or groups needed immediate help.
If you are unable to enter the Escambia County Courthouse in Brewton, the following contacts may be used to obtain essential services:
1. If you are represented by an attorney, please contact your attorney.
2. For Circuit Court matters and filings, please contact Circuit Clerk 251-867-0225; ext. 225
3. For District Court matters and filings please contact Circuit Clerk 251-867-0225; ext. 225
4. For Small Claims matters and filings, please contact Circuit Clerk 251-867-0225; ext. 225
5. For District Attorney: 251-867-0239
6. For Tax Collector: 251-867-0209 or 251-867-0213
7. For Tax Assessor: 251-867-0214
8. For Probation services: 251-867-9281
9. For all other matters, please contact County Administrator, 251-867-0231
These limited restrictions will remain in place until further notice.
If you are unable to enter the Satellite Courthouse in Atmore, the following contacts may be used to obtain essential services:
1. For Tax Collector: 251-867-0209 or 251-867-0213
3. For Tax Assessor: 251-867-0214
4. Agency on Aging: 251-368-1032, ext. 7
5. ECATS: 251-446-9681, ext. 8