Pandemic shutters city halls

Iola and LaHarpe are closing their respective city halls because of the coronavirus. The proactive measures are being taken with the number of cases expected to grow.

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Local News

March 16, 2020 - 10:19 AM

Iola City Hall is closed to the public due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Utility customers may pay their bills using the building's night deposit drop slot or the drive-up window. Photo by Richard Luken / Iola Register

Iola and LaHarpe city officials are closing their respective city halls to the public and taking other preventive health measures in light of the ongoing COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

Among the steps:

— Iola City Hall, as well as the code enforcement and recreation offices will be closed to the public.

Those who pay their monthly utility bills may do so using the night drop box, or the drive-through window during normal business hours. City staff will implement “safe money handling” practices.

— All recreation programs and community building rentals are suspended until April 1. The suspension includes the spring youth soccer leagues slated to begin this month.

— Iola Municipal Court sessions are closed until further notice.

— Iola’s parks will remain open, but parents are asked to wipe down the playground equipment afterward.

Iola Mayor Jon Wells said the steps are being taken at the advice of the League of Kansas Municipalities, which has been working with several communities across the state.

He described the measures as “proactive,” to limit public exposure.

City services — trash pickup, water treatment, police and fire protection, etc. — will continue as normal. Wells said contingency plans are being put in place in case city employees fall ill, or are exposed to somebody who tests positive for COVID-19.

The city is encouraging residents to practice “voluntary social distancing,’’ Wells said.

There are no known cases of the coronavirus in Allen County. The number statewide grew to eight, including Saturday’s announcement of a positive COVID-19 test in Franklin County.

Health officials continue to stress the importance of protecting yourself against possible exposure, including avoiding large public gatherings, washing your hands frequently and avoid touching your face.

Those who are ill are discouraged from going to work or school. Stay home unless seeking medical care.

Wells encouraged groups planning public events in the coming days and weeks to consider the ongoing pandemic, and perhaps reschedule them until later in the spring.

THE CITY is huddling today with Allen County officials about postponing the court sessions.

On Friday, Kansas House Judiciary Committee members voted to give the Kansas Supreme Court Chief Justice Marla Luckert the power to delay court proceedings if she believes it’s in the best interest of health and safety.

Other city updates will be listed on its website and Facebook page.

LAHARPE Mayor Mae Crowell, after visiting with City Attorney Fred Apt, announced this morning LaHarpe City Hall will remain closed to the public until April 1.

The closure includes shutting off access to the building’s fitness center, gymnasium and meeting rooms.

Residents may still pay their utility bills via the building’s exterior drop slot, or online at cityoflaharpe.org.

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