Courthouse closes longer as local cases rise


BUCKHANNON — Due to the vast increase of local positive cases, the Upshur County Commission called another emergency meeting Wednesday afternoon to discuss further closure of all facilities owned and operated by the county.

According to County Administrator Carrie Wallace, the Upshur-Buckhannon Health Department reported 82 currently active cases in the county on Wednesday.  The free community testing at Buckhannon-Upshur High School on Friday yielded eight positive results out of 322 tested. Another 468 tests were conducted Monday and Tuesday, which added six more positive confirmations.

Upshur Schools also reported a total of four positive students Wednesday, including one new case at Fred Eberle Technical Center and one new case at French Creek Elementary, in addition to the positive case previously reported at Buckhannon Academy Elementary and the full-time remote student who tested positive last week. The school system was still reportedly holding at nine total cases amongst faculty, staff and students Wednesday evening. It is important to remember that this information is still filtering into the state’s reporting.

In response to the surge of positive cases and Upshur being the only “orange” county in the state, Commissioners voted to further close the Courthouse for non-time sensitive appointments. At a minimum, they plan to reopen October 21 for the beginning of Early Voting. Other business resuming that Wednesday will be readdressed in the coming weeks, after analyzing the county’s condition.

This decision comes after Monday morning’s emergency meeting, which closed the Courthouse for nonessential business, and also due to the high volume of patrons using the Courthouse, they voted to further expand the restrictions. Free COVID-19 testing will still be available Thursday from noon to 6 p.m. The restrictions will mimic the county’s closure from last month’s outbreak. Each office can decide what is and is not time sensitive, and they ask that patrons call ahead.

County Administrator Carrie Wallace explained that in-person business includes cash tax payments, DMV-related appointments and voter registration. A press release stated, “Offices will remain staffed and available to serve the public via telephone, email, USPS, online or appointment. County employees working in the office will continue to wear masks and adhere to social distancing guidelines, while others will transition to telework, if possible.

“Tax payments may be mailed, submitted via the drop box on Chancery Street or paid online at www.upshurcounty.org. If an individual prefers to pay in cash, Court Security Officers will be available at the front doors of the Courthouse Annex to accept cash and provide receipts. DMV matters will be handled by appointment only.

“Residents may continue to register to vote through Tuesday, October 13th. Court Security Officers are available to accept various voter documents, including absentee ballots, at the front doors of the Courthouse.”

Closures apply to all county-owned and operated facilities, with the exception of James W. Curry Library due to their virtual school program. The library works in low group numbers, usually limited to approximately 10 students per day, who rely on the facility’s internet access.

The Courthouse will still hold their public testing for voting equipment next Thursday, October 15 at 9 a.m. in the County Clerk’s hallway. Anyone who wants to observe must wear a mask and follow social distancing guidelines.

Upshur County Commission will still be holding their Thursday, October 8 regular meeting, but participation is only available to the public via conference call. To access the meeting, dial 1-717-275-8940 or 1-712-832-8330 and enter access code 898 8882.

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