WESTERN TREASURE VALLEY — City halls across Payette and Washington counties are taking steps to limit the spread of novel coronavirus COVID-19 while attempting to conduct business as usual in their offices. Following are examples of the measures being taken.
Fruitland: Following a conference call with state officials on March 18, Fruitland Mayor Brian Howell determined that his staff’s response thus far has been appropriate and no additional restrictions are needed at this time.
“The goal at this point is to try to slow the spread, which is what we are trying to do with the steps we are taking” said Howell via email on March 18. “We are asking that people that need something from city hall use email or the phone and only come in if it is necessary. If they do come in we are asking that they wash their hands before approaching the city employees.”
The Police Department will continue to handle calls, but unless officer response is required reports will be taken over the phone. The front desk at the Police Department is closed and no fingerprinting will be done.
“If some one comes in they will be screened and an officer will talk with them outside,” Howell added. “The Paramedics will respond as usual.”
Payette: On Wednesday, the City of Payette issued a public safety alert on its website, telling residents that City Hall will have limited access to the public starting the following day.
“City staff will be available via phone and email to assist residents. All City business can be transacted via telephone, email, online, or mail,” according to the alert. “For business that must be made in person, appointments can be made. All pertinent contact information for city staff and departments can be found on the city website.”
Following are some of the facilities and programs suspended until further notice:
• The Payette Public Swimming Pool and all aquatic programming are closed. Swimming passes will be extended for current pass holders;
• The Public Library is closed and programs are suspended;
• The Payette Fire Department is closed to public access. Burn permits are available online at cityofpayette.com, or by phoning the city at (208) 642-6024 or the fire department at (208) 642-6028;
• Fire department smoke detector and car seat programs;
• Police department officer ride-alongs; and
• City park restrooms are closed
According to the alert, city employees are still on the job and business goes on as usual, including trash pickup and public safety. Mayor Jeff Williams asks that non-essential business be conducted by phone or via digital means.
“For business that must be made in person, appointments can be made,” said Williams via email on March 19. “All pertinent contact information for city staff and departments can be found on the city website.”
Williams added the city is working to present upcoming meetings to the public in an online format.
New Plymouth: On Tuesday, March 17, the city of New Plymouth issued the following alerts:
• The Armoral Tuttle Library is closed until further notice;
• City hall is requesting that water and sewer payments not be made in person;
“City Hall has a dropbox by the front door that is checked throughout the day,” according to the alert. “You may also call in your payment, pay online, or mail in.”;
• City staff have been instructed to be cautious, washing hands frequently, using hand sanitizer when necessary and wiping down surfaces frequently touched by staff and the public;
• Following an emergency meeting on March 19, City Council adopted Resolution 2020-01, declaring a local disaster emergency to be able to protect residents against COVID;
• Starting Monday, New Plymouth City Hall will be closed to the public. City staff will be available via phone and email to assist residents. All City business can be transacted via telephone, email, online, or mail. For business that must be made in person, appointments can be made; and
• According to City Clerk Danielle Painter, the March 23 Planning & Zoning meeting and the April 6 City Council meeting are cancelled.
Weiser: Via its website, the City of Weiser announced on March 18 that the City Hall building is closed until further notice.
Mayor Randy Hibberd told the Argus in a phone interview on March 19 that the City Council declared a state of emergency at its Wednesday meeting.
Hibberd said the City Hall closure remains a precautionary measure as there are presently no active cases of COVID in Washington County.
Hibberd said the city will be running a skeleton crew during the closure, in order to keep business running as well as to enable city staff to do external tasks. Such could include delivering meals to senior citizens, he said.
He adds the city is partnering with local volunteer organizations in case their services suddenly become needed.