Social distancing and COVID-19 were a point of discussion during Monday’s meeting of the Brown County Commissioners. County Judge Paul Lilly offered a briefing on courthouse access restrictions.


“We just need to limit the number of people in the courthouse,” Lilly said, before asking Matt Krischke, information technology manager for Brown County to address the court. Currently, the commissioner’s meetings are posted on YouTube an hour or two after each meeting. “We can live stream the meetings,” Krischke said. “Where it may get complicated is if citizens want to make comments.” Krischke did say that although it may be complicated, there were options to make live stream work.


Precinct 1 Commissioner Gary Worley said he was concerned about comments being made via live stream. “I think if someone is going to make comments, they need to be in the courtroom. Someone in California could be making comments about what is happening here and have no interest. I am okay with live feed. Just not that.” After suggestions were offered on running meetings by live feed, the court took no action.


Precinct 2 Commissioner Joel Kelton and Precinct 3 Commissioner Wayne Shaw reported they are exercising social distancing by not allowing their respective crews to meet in the “yards” and discouraging employees from sharing equipment.


Sharon Ferguson, county clerk, closed her office to the public March 23. “We are still working all day, fully staffed,” Ferguson said. “We are just taking appointments and working mail, e-filing and also still doing marriage licenses if needed. If birth certificates are needed for housing or insurance, we are taking care of that as well. But we are only doing things by appointment. We are encouraging people to use our online resources. We are just doing our part for social distancing.


In other business, the court:


Approved the sheriff’s office to renew a maintenance agreement with Idemia Identity and Security for the jail’s livescan equipment.


Approved courthouse maintenance supervisor Carl Greer to purchase a new riding lawnmower to replace a non-functioning mower, which has been part of the equipment fleet for 15 years. The cost of the mower approved was $1,599.


Received the jail report from sheriff’s office captain Becky Caffey who reported there are currently 124 inmates (as of Monday morning) with 5 being contracted. Contract inmates are those being housed by Brown County, who in turn receives a daily stipend from the county in which they were arrested.


Took no action regarding a burn ban, which means there is still no burn ban in Brown County.


Lilly released a new order Tuesday afternoon. “In light of continued efforts to aid in the containment of the spread of the COVID-19 virus, the Brown County Courthouse and all county government buildings shall close their public lobbies and other areas open to the general public. The courthouse and other county buildings are not halting business and shall remain open, but rather accessible to the public by appointment. The public is requested to call the office they need to visit and set an appointment date and time where they can come visit the office. These efforts will reduce the number of persons in the courthouse and other county buildings at any one time. Exceptions: 1. This order shall not affect those persons desiring to attend the weekly county commissioners court meetings held on Monday at 9 a.m. in the courthouse. However, these meetings are now televised and it is strongly urged that the public watch the meetings after they have been recorded and posted to the county’s Web site. 2. Law enforcement and public safety buildings. This order shall remain in effect from March 31, 2020 at 12:01 a.m. until April 17 at 11:59 p.m., after which a reevaluation of need will be assessed.”