FARMINGTON — The Franklin County facilities manager is looking into the cost of doors and sneeze/spit guards to protect county employees when the courthouse reopens.

County officials are taking precautionary measures should the state lift COVID-19 restrictions that would allow county offices to reopen in the next few weeks. The public can’t enter them now, but there is a drop box outside for those who cannot communicate online or by phone.

Nick Palmer, facilities manager, said desk-top shields would cost about $140 each. The doors for certain offices would allow the public’s business to be conducted in the hall of the courthouse while employees stay in their offices.

A few specific-style doors to offices would cost about $3,468, Palmer said.

“I think it is too expensive,” Commissioner Chairman Terry Brann of Wilton said, of the doors.

Joyce Morton, register of probate, said she has concerns because her office is very small and includes three work stations, judge’s bench and seats for court proceedings. Among the business conducted in her office are passports.

“I truly would like a door in my office to keep people in the hallway,” she said. She specified a half-door .

If people were to come into the office, there wouldn’t be enough space to be 6 feet apart, she said.

The offices have solid doors with no pass through opportunities.

Susan Black, register of deeds, said she didn’t have an opinion. People do need to come in to see the books. There is a back door they could use, if necessary, she said.

Whatever is done should be professional and should be all or nothing, Black said.

Finance Manager Vickie Braley said she thinks spit shields would be fine for the commissioners office.

The shields are 24 inches wide, 32 inches tall and have an 18-inch pass through, Palmer said. They are a piece of plexiglass on legs.

Six units would be about $840, he said.

The cost to do all 14 workstations would exceed that.

Shields are also needed for other county offices, including district attorney, emergency management agency and IT systems administrator.

Palmer will bring prices to the next commission meeting May 5. There is $33,400 in the courthouse reserve account, according to Vickie Braley, the county finance manager.

County Clerk Julie Magoon said county EMA Director Tim Hardy reminded them that expenses related to COVID-19 could be reimbursed by the federal government.

Commissioners would like to hold their next meeting in person rather than via teleconference.

They would also like to begin budget talks in person. The Superior Court room would be big enough to allow for social distancing, Commissioner Charles Webster said.

People who wanted to hear could call in and the department heads could be in the courtroom.

Webster said he was concerned about the Jay damaged paper mill and the financial impact on the county. An explosion at the mill destroyed a digester on April 15, which is an integral piece of the pulp-making process. An investigation into what caused the explosion is underway.

In other business, commissioners accepted $3,628 from a criminal forfeiture drug case.

Commissioners also learned that Jim Desjardins, county IT systems administrator, negotiated a new, three-year contract with Consolidated Communications to increase bandwidth. The cost is $30 less a month than what’s paid now. It will provide four times more internet speed at the courthouse, and three times more at the Regional Communications Center in Farmington.






Sneeze guards would cost about $140 each

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