TUSCUMBIA — While some essential operations will continue through the coronavirus pandemic, the general public will for the most part be prohibited from entering the Colbert County Courthouse, at least until April 6.

County commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday during an emergency meeting to close down the courthouse to protect the health of the public and employees.

The closure will primarily impact the probate judge's office and revenue commissioner, Commission Chairman David Black said.

Probate Judge Daniel Rosser will be able to hold necessary commitment hearings as required.

The Sheriff's Department will continue to operate, but applications for pistol permits may only be taken online.

Sheriff Frank Williamson said people booked into the jail must be screened before they're placed in the general population.

The road, water and household garbage departments, the Emergency Management Agency, and maintenance and housekeeping will all continue to work, some on a scaled-back basis.

Black said courthouse security will continue with admittance limited to appointments for court business, the Sheriff's Department and probate office. 

He said department heads will determine which employees are deemed essential personnel for the continued operation of their departments.

He said the commission office will continue to operate.

District Attorney Bryce Graham said his office will remain open on a limited basis.

"Our office can't shut down," Graham said. 

The Alabama Administrative Office of Courts has delayed grand jury meetings, jury trials and pretrial conferences.

Rosser said the grace period to renew vehicle tags has been extended during the pandemic.

"No one will suffer an extra fine or fee for not being able to enter the courthouse," he said.

His employees will be in the office for a limited time each day to process online and mail order tag renewals.

County Administrator Roger Creekmore said the plan is to return for the April 6 commission meeting, if the impact of the pandemic has subsided.

If not, the commission would meet in another emergency session to cancel the April 6 commission meeting and extend the closure.

Rosser said the Alabama Probate Judge's Association is recommending the Secretary of State postpones the March 31 runoff election.

"It's almost certainly going to have to be delayed," he said.

Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall Tuesday signed off on Secretary of State John Merrill's request to postpone the runoff. They're awaiting a decision by Gov. Kay Ivey.


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