Advertisement

Government buildings in Jacksonville & Onslow Co. restricting public access once again

An entire shift of Jacksonville fire officers are in quarantine after a COVID-19 exposure.
Published: Nov. 24, 2020 at 1:31 PM EST|Updated: Nov. 24, 2020 at 1:39 PM EST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

JACKSONVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - Government buildings in Onslow County are dialing back access to the public because of pandemic outbreaks and clusters.

Jacksonville will close public access to most of its public buildings starting Monday morning. That includes city hall, the public safety building, and all fire stations. Town hall access in Richlands will be closed on Tuesday, while Swansboro says it is still formulating its plans.

“We’re doing this to not only protect the public, but also protect city employees through the holiday season,” said Jacksonville City Manager Richard Woodruff.

The city says almost an entire shift of firefighters is quarantined after possible exposure. Other firefighters are covering their shift while mutual aid would be available if a significant fire were to break out.

“These are the types of things though that we’re trying to prevent,” said Woodruff, who added that not tightening up building access could lead to more quarantining of city employees and possibly more closures.

Onslow County will be restricting public access to its buildings effective at 5:00 p.m. Monday.

The courthouse and the sheriff’s office will continue to have public access, while county libraries will remain open with masks required.

It comes as the state continues to report record-shattering cases of coronavirus, and cities across the state are grappling with how to handle them. Onslow County reported a 7% rate of transmission this week, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.

Greensboro Mayor Nancy Vaughan threatened Monday to close business in the city not complying with the Governor’s new mask mandate and mass gathering restrictions after an initial warning.

“But, if we come back a second time and the violations remain, they can be closed for 24 hours,” said Vaughan during a press conference with Gov. Cooper and Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy Cohen.

Cities in Eastern North Carolina are striking a much lighter tone, however.

“We’re encouraging and hoping that our businesses actually fall in line and do what’s necessary to help slow the spread of COVID-19,” said Kinston Mayor Don Hardy, who left open the possibility of using law enforcement to meet those ends. “We don’t want to actually have to do that. But, if it’s necessary, we will.”

Onslow County officials continued that they don’t feel it’s appropriate to come down on businesses.

“What happens with the retail community, that is up to the retail merchant, and that is up to the governor,” said Woodruff.

Onslow County Government

Onslow County Government will be restricting public access into County buildings effective 5PM, Monday, November 30, 2020. If you need County services, please call ahead. Limited appointments will be available, and many services are available online. For more information, call the Citizen Phone Bank at 910 989-5027.

Please note the following exceptions and special information:

  • Public access will be permitted for all publicly-noticed governmental meetings, but meeting attendance will be restricted in number in compliance with current Executive Orders.
  • To reducing the risk of crowding at the County airport during the holidays, family and friends meeting inbound or sending off outbound passengers are asked to wait in their vehicles in the parking lot.
  • Onslow County Public Libraries will be accessible to the public (masks required) Monday-Friday, 9AM-Noon, and 3-6PM for computers, browsing shelves and WiFi usage; Monday-Friday, 10AM-Noon, and 4-6PM curbside pickup will be available; on Saturdays, the Main Library will be publicly accessible 10AM-2PM; all in-person programming is suspended.
  • Onslow County Tax Office will still be accepting payments prior to the January 5, 2021 deadline, and will spread out to provide services to both the first and second floor of the Government Center to improve safety. Please make payments online or by telephone if possible, or use the secure drop box located in front of the Government Center.
  • Onslow County Health Department services will continue offering in-person services by appointment only.
  • Animal Services will be answering emergency calls in person. Please call ahead to make an appointment for in-person assistance at Animal Services.
  • The Meadowview Road Landfill and all convenience sites will continue on a regular schedule (and are closed only for Thanksgiving Day). Payment boxes will be reinstalled at convenience sites. Please bring exact change if possible.
  • The Register of Deeds office will be closed to the public, and will offer online services. Limited appointments are available for marriages and notary oaths, but please call in advance. The Register of Deeds will accept maps and documents for recording that are brought to their front door.
  • The Onslow County Museum will continue to limit capacity and require masks, (but are open regular hours on Saturday after Thanksgiving).
  • Onslow County Senior Services is suspending all in person programming, but will continue in-home aide, drive-through congregate meal pick-up, and home delivered meal programs.
  • The Courthouse and Justice Center (Sheriff’s Office) are currently exempted from the closure to the public, and continue having publicly accessible facilities. Please go to nccourts.gov to get information about the court system and individual court times. Extra spacing and mask requirements have been put into place at both facilities.
  • Parks and Recreation facilities will remain open but citizens are reminded to wear masks.

City of Jacksonville Government

For the City of Jacksonville, the restriction will close public access to the City Hall, the Center for Public Safety, some recreation sites, all fire stations and the public services complex. Citizens will be able to use a phone at most of the entrances for these locations for connection to employees.

At the Jacksonville City Hall, drive up access to Utility Billing for water and sewer account payments will continue as usual. For other business, it is best to call the City Hall main number (910 938-5200) before going to City Hall except for drive up access. Many functions with the City can be performed online. Please check the City website at JacksonvilleNC.gov for more information.

No future Passport appointments will be issued for the City of Jacksonville until the building restrictions is lifted.

For the Jacksonville Center for Public Safety; the public can interact with staff via the Taxi Permit Window at the main entrance to the Center. Taxi permits that expire during the closure will be automatically extended until the building reopens. No fingerprinting services will be offered during this time.

All City Fire Stations are closed to the public because of this action. Potential visitors should call the Administrative Line at 910 455-4000.

Some Jacksonville Recreation school and senior connected programs will continue to operate. More information is on the City of Jacksonville Recreation webpage at JacksonvilleNC.gov/Recreation and the Recreation Facebook Page.

Copyright 2020 WITN. All rights reserved.