Commission keeps most county-run facilities closed

  • Wayne Knuckles/The Clayton Tribune. From left, County Clerk Linda Ramey and commissioners Will Nichols, Kent Woerner and Greg James at last Thursday's emergency meeting of the Rabun County commission.
    Wayne Knuckles/The Clayton Tribune. From left, County Clerk Linda Ramey and commissioners Will Nichols, Kent Woerner and Greg James at last Thursday's emergency meeting of the Rabun County commission.
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CLAYTON— Commissioners met in an emergency session last Thursday to discuss the county’s COVID-19 pandemic response.

This meeting comes on the heels of their emergency meeting on March 13 where decisions were made about how to limit the spread of the virus in the community and practice social distancing.

Roy Quilliams, director at Rabun County Recreation Department, said that because the Rec Department is the largest county-operated public gathering place, he felt the recreation department should be closed for an extended period of time.

 “I think we need to be shut down for more than two weeks,” Quilliams said.

Quilliams said he spoke with several recreation departments and there “is so much stuff being cancelled” that it would be best to stay closed for now.

Greg James, commission chairman, said that it’s important to restrict contact with others as much as possible.

 “It’s a matter of keeping everyone safe,” James said. He noted that the courthouse, which remains open for now, is disinfected constantly throughout the day.

Sheriff Chad Nichols said the jail is being disinfected every hour.

All employees have their temperatures checked when arriving at work.

Nichols said that the jail also has video conferencing for inmates and their families as well the judges or attorneys who need to speak with them, to avoid direct contact.

Tammy Whitmire, elections supervisor, said that with the changes in election dates due to COVID-19, the elections board would need to have meetings to discuss important details and vote on different matters.

She said that the space they currently have their meetings at is very small and asked commissioners what to do if a large group showed up to attend the meeting, because there would not be enough space to practice social distancing.

James suggested that Whitmire utilize a large space, such as the courtroom or another large area where attendees could spread out.  

James assured Whitmire that they would find an appropriate space for her board to meet.

Michael Mazarky, EMA director, said that the population in the county is increasing due to visitors and second-home owners.

“There’s an influx coming into the county,” Mazarky said.

The meeting provided an update for citizens and they all agreed to do “whatever we need to take care of our citizens.”