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by Patty Cheffey
In light of a new order of the Missouri Supreme Court and Hannibal Regional resources being stretched to the limit, Judge Rachel Bringer Shepherd has issued a new administrative order for the Palmyra Courthouse courtrooms.
The Marion County Commission learned of the new order during its meeting Monday morning, at which they also heard an update on the storm water drainage project and reappointed two to the Planning and Zoning Commission.
In her new order, Bringer Shepherd says all court participants will wear face masks and socially distance.
In addition, the judge presiding over a particular proceeding will have the discretion to implement additional safety measures, not limited to temperature checks.
In addition, a judge may use all available technologies, including teleconferencing and video conferencing to limit in-person appearances.
Certain individuals, including those who have self-quarantined or have been diagnosed or had contact with anyone who has COVID, are barred from the courtrooms, and attorneys are being asked to keep litigants and witnesses outside of the courthouse until their case is called.
The order, which was dated Aug. 17, also says no jury trials will be conducted at this time due to a number of reasons, including the counties of the Tenth Circuit have COVID infection rates equally in the infection peak of November 2020; the counties of Marion, Monroe and Ralls are considered “extremely high risk” for COVID transmission; and Marion County is the number one count in the state of Missouri for transmission rate of COVID, according to Hannibal Regional.
It is also noted Hannibal Regional has at different times diverted patients due to a lack of resources.
Bringer Shepherd indicated she will keep an eye on the situation and make any changes necessary depending on a number of factors.
In other business, County Clerk Valerie Dornberger reported the city of Palmyra said the storm water drainage project on the south side of the courthouse is moving forward and is expected to start around Oct. 1.
The project, which involves new water drains, is expected to take two to three weeks to complete.
Commissioners approved the reappointments of Denise Damron and Charles Webster to the Planning and Zoning Commission.
In a related matter, Teya Stice, county improvement coordinator, said there are two possible projects coming up which could mean planning and zoning meetings. However, no paperwork has been submitted at this time.
Stice said she had also been contacted about regulations for a solar projects, to which she responded the county at this time does not have any regulations.
She also noted she had no new information about the County Road 402 bridge project but will contact MoDOT this week to see where that is at.
Sheriff Jimmy Shinn was present and reported the new floor in the kitchen at the jail is completed.
He noted his appreciation for the Hannibal Nutrition Center which provided several meals for the inmates while the floor was being finished.
The commissioners also held a closed session to review the audit on the CARES Act and financials, which was conducted by Devereux and Company.
Dornberger said there were no issues found during the audit, but a complete report will be released at a later date.