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Public boards begin reopening to in-person meetings

The Jefferson County Board of Supervisors has resumed in-person meetings, though meetings are limited to 10 people. Other boards and councils in southeast Iowa are making plans to return to in-person meetings, too. (Union archive photo)
The Jefferson County Board of Supervisors has resumed in-person meetings, though meetings are limited to 10 people. Other boards and councils in southeast Iowa are making plans to return to in-person meetings, too. (Union archive photo)

Public buildings are slowly starting to open up after more than two months of being closed.

Some boards and commissions have returned to meeting in person, while others plan to do so soon and still others are content with online get-togethers for the time being.

The Jefferson County Board of Supervisors has returned to holding its normal in-person meetings, with the caveat that only 10 total people are allowed in the room at once. In practice, this means that after counting the three supervisors, the city engineer and a member of the auditor’s office, only five spots remain for other county officials or members of the public. The Jefferson County Courthouse was locked until May 18, and residents had to schedule an appointment to meet with a county official or call someone once they got to the front door.

Henry County Auditor Shelly Barber said it’s not set in stone yet, but the Henry County Supervisors have been talking about resuming in-person meetings and opening the courthouse, too. She said the supervisors will discuss the matter at their meeting Thursday, June 4. Right now, the discussion has been about reopening the courthouse doors on Monday, June 8. She said nearly all the offices have plexiglass at their front counters to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

Until the supervisors decide to reopen the courthouse, the Henry County Courthouse is open by appointment only. Because the doors were locked, early voting moved from the courthouse to the emergency management building on the west side of town.

Fairfield City Hall has been open to foot traffic since mid-May. The front counter is open for business but the bathrooms and drinking fountains are still off limits. Council meetings are still closed to the public, however, and can be watched online.

Washington County’s Courthouse is still closed to the public and will likely remain so for the month of June. Washington’s school board is also still holding meetings over Zoom, with no plans in place to resume in-person meetings. Washington and Mt. Pleasant city councils are in the same boat, continuing to meet over Zoom.