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Operations for public offices, schools, medical facilities and court have been revamped in the wake of the CO-VID 19 statewide emergency. 

COURT

Seventh Judicial Court judges Kathy Johnson and John Reeves have continued until mid-April civil and criminal court trials, hearings and court appearances with the exception of any matters relating to civil protective orders, matters involving children, emergency interdictions, matters of public health and emergency matters. Arraignments will be handled via telephone and video conferencing when possible. 

SCHOOLS

On March 18, schools began distributing grab-and-go meals for students at three locations -- Vidalia Junior High, Ferriday Junior High and Monterey High School. Breakfast, lunch and a snack were distributed all at one time. 

Superintendent Whest Shirley said students and school employees were scheduled to be home this week due to spring break so no meals were served.

Prior to spring break, the school locations were serving 300 meals a day, approximately 100 meals at each location.

He said the school system overall is keeping up with state guidelines and operating on a day-by-day basis.

LAW ENFORCEMENT

Concordia Parish Chief Investigator David Hedrick said people can pay taxes and fines on line.

"Those offices are not open because we want limited exposure for people in the courthouse to the public," Hedrick said. "But if anyone needs anything they can call me at the Sheriff's Office (318-336-5231)."

Ferriday Assistant Police Chief Herman Curry said he has written a couple of tickets for failure to disperse under an emergency proclamation, "but for the most part everyone has been very cooperative."

"We are highly encouraging everyone to comply with the proclamation," Curry said.

Vidalia Police Chief Joey Merrill is working with local churches to check on the elderly.

"We just want to make sure they have everything they need," Merrill said. "We're making sure they don't have to get out. We'll continue patrolling and making sure everyone is staying safe.

HOSPITAL

Riverland Medical Center Marketing Director Brandy Spears said patients with appointments at Riverland clinics are asked to stay in their cars when they arrive and call the clinic to inform them they are at the clinic.

"Then we call them to come into the clinic," Spears said. "We'll just have one patient at a time at the clinic to reduce the risk of exposure."

Spears said the clinics and Riverland Medical Center are seeing a number of ill patients at this time.

"We will check them out and make sure to rule out strep throat or the flu before recommending them to get tested for the coronavirus," she said.

She said Riverland has enacted more stringent infection control policies.

Non-essential visitors are now prohibited from entering the facility.

Essential visitors, as determined by Riverland Medical Center, will be subject to COVID-19 screening. The results of the screening will determine if you are allowed into the facility. If you are allowed into the hospital, you will be required to wear a face mask for the duration of your visit. 

To contact the nurses' station for communication with patients, please call 318-757-6551 ext. 317. 

The emergency department will remain open 24 hours a day, seven days a week

All other points of entry will remain closed. 

The hospital cafeteria will be closed to the public, but will continue to serve patients and staff.

For non-clinical, general information, you can call Louisiana's statewide 211 network. This network is designed and staffed to handle calls from Louisiana residents who are concerned and who have questions about the COVID-19 virus.

MUNICIPALITIES

Clayton: Clayton Mayor Josephine Washington said town hall was closed to the public as of Monday and closed to workers as of Tuesday.

"We are asking residents to stay at home and the businesses to follow the proclamation that was issued by the governor and police jury," Washington said.

Ferriday: Ferriday City Hall hours since Monday are 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Mayor Sherrie Jacobs McMahon said all water bills must be paid by check or money order and placed in the outside drop box only. She said water bills are not being accepted inside the building.

McMahon said all businesses allowed to operate under the governor's emergency proclamation are required to close at 7 p.m. each day until further notice. Exceptions include restaurants offering delivery/pick-up.

The mayor advised that citizens can only go out for essential services and are asked that everyone stay six feet away from others. She said police would enforce a statewide rule that people do not gather in groups.

The town remains under a 10 p.m. until 5 a.m. curfew.

She said restrictions are in effect until April 13, 2020.

Ridgecrest: The Village of Ridgecrest office is also closed to the public but water bills are being processed and residents are asked to drop their payments in the drop box or mail in their payments.

Vidalia: Vidalia Mayor Buz Craft said businesses and residents are complying with state and local orders and that overall the town is doing well during the emergency.

He said that during this week of spring break for schools that some children and teens have been gathering in groups of more than 10, a violation of the state order on social distancing. The mayor said Police Chief Joey Merrill is “breaking up this sort of thing.”

He said Vidalia “has had no real problems,” but urged all to shop as they normally would and not over buy so that stores can keep their supplies in stock for everyone and urged all to follow guidelines advocated by health officials.

The town will post updates as needed on its website and on its Facebook page.

In the meantime, utility payments are accepted by mail, phone or the drive-through window at town hall between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. weekdays. Payments can also be placed in the night deposit box.

The convention center and IT Center is closed.

Household garbage pickup will be once a week. Monday pick will continue on Monday while Tuesday pickup will be moved to Wednesday. Pickup service for businesses is unchanged.

Craft said both the police department and fire department are fully staffed.

At the courthouse in Vidalia, operations have also been altered.

PARISH OFFICES

 Assessor: Assessor Jerry Clark said he was manning his office while his staff remains at home.

He said he has placed a desk outside his office as a mail drop.

“We have that and I told the clerk (Clerk of Court) that if they need something for a property bond they could slide the request under the door and I’ll get them the information they need,” Clark said.

Additionally, Clark said he has extended until May 1 the deadline for businesses to filed their personal property form.

Clark said that while he is manning the office during regular hours, he is shutting down during the lunch hour.

“I’ll be here if anything is needed from our office,” he said.

District Attorney: “If anybody has any fees due they can contact my office or the sheriff’s office to make arrangements for payments,” District Attorney Brad Burget said. “And that can be done online as well to avoid exposure of person to person contact. I would encourage anyone with court dates or questions to call my office (318-336-5526).”

Clerk of Court: The Clerk of Court’s office is operating but is shutdown to the public.

A drop box is located outside the office for attorneys to file their paperwork, while employees are continuing regular office work and daily tasks are continuing.

Sales Tax Office: Concordia Parish School Board Director of Business Affairs Tom O’Neal said the sales tax office in Vidalia is open from 9 a.m. until 12 noon for the time being.

Sheriff’s Tax Office: Cyndie Dillon said the Concordia Parish Sheriff’s Office & Tax Office is on lockdown until further notice.

“We will be here working and can be reached by phone,” she said.

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