Courthouse prepares for cautious reopenting

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

McCOOK, Neb. -- The Red Willow County courthouse is preparing to cautiously open June 1 after the state Directed Health Measure expires May 31, but visitors will still be restricted to enter by one door and are asked to avoid bringing children into the building.

“It’s just time,” Red Willow County Commissioner Earl McNutt said on High Plains Radio’s Open Line today, saying shields would be put up in various offices and other protective measures would be put in place, but the public will be encouraged to continue using available online services.

Better use of those services, as well as the new dropbox are a couple of positive developments resulting from the coronavirus pandemic, he said. Courthouses in Hitchcock, Hayes and other Nebraska counties have already reopened.

Visiting the courthouse has been by appointment only, and access to county commissioner meetings limited as well.

Meeting Monday, the board agreed to proceed with refinancing debt incurred in construction of the county jail, calling existing bonds paying more than 3% and issuing new ones at 1.77 percent, resulting in a one-year-earlier payoff of 2031 and a savings to taxpayers of $341,000.

Selection of a health insurance provider was tabled until a special meeting Friday, when more information will be available from two bidders. Later, in the consent agenda, some $300,000 was transferred from the general fund to the county’s self-insurance fund to cover medical expenses.

That money originated in the county’s inheritance tax fund.

McNutt also noted that the Red Willow County Fair’s decision to cancel most public events was precipitated the cancellation of other county fairs, which had contracted with the same entertainment and carnivals.

Friday, Red Willow County Fair manager Giles Bowman announced that the fair board had made the difficult decision to cancel public events and vendors, but 4-H and FFA activities would go forward with a modified schedule coordinated by the Red Willow county Extension Office. More information on those events is available by calling the Extension Office at 308-345-3390.

“The decision to cancel was not made lightly by the Fair Board.,” Bowman said in a release Friday. “The safety and well being of everyone involved is the utmost priority of our Board. We would like to reiterate to our loyal patrons, sponsors and volunteers that these cancellations and modified schedules are only temporary and we are already working towards the future and the 2021 fair. We are in contact with the entertainment and are working to reschedule Diamond Rio and Whiskey Bent for the 2021 fair.”

Pre-purchased tickets will be valid for future entertainment, or if purchased from ticketstorm, they can email for refunds, he said. If they were purchased at the fair board office, they can be refunded there.

For more information, call the fair board office at 308-345-4650.

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