McKean County Courthouse closed to visitors

COVID-19 Update_FB

McKean County President Judge John Pavlock has issued a judicial order closing the McKean County Courthouse and related offices to all visitors. County offices and the courts will remain open, with only essential employee staffing. County business will be managed through phone calls, email, internet and by appointment only for anyone who must enter the building.

County residents can access many services online including securing dog licenses and registering to vote. The county tax claim office can receive payment for delinquent taxes by mail or over the phone by credit card. Anyone with an inquiry about transactions or business related to the county or courts should place a direct call to that department. All county department direct lines are on the county website.

“We will conduct all necessary and essential county business,” stated McKean County Board of Commissioners Chair Tom Kreiner. “Business will go on as usual with limited staff in offices as is deemed by department heads and elected officials. In a crisis, we all must work together to ensure the safety of our community while meeting the needs of the citizens.”

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has closed all PennDOT driver license centers and has granted extensions to expiring registrations for vehicle owners. In addition, passport application will not be processed. The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services has closed all county assistance offices and is encouraging online applications.

“Many of our offices provide support for state offices, and with the numerous shutdowns, we expect a reduction in the need for some county services and an increase in others” said County Commissioner Carol Duffy. “With the closing of PennDOT licensing, fewer residents will have an immediate need for marriage or divorce certificates in order to secure a Real ID Card. At this time our focus must be on offices that provide health care, emergency services, food and vital programs.”

Any visit to the courthouse must be scheduled in advance with a phone call to the department head. Each office will notify courthouse security of the visitor’s name. All approved visitors will be required to check in and out of the building. Anyone who visits the courthouse with an appointment should not bring any other individuals or children with them, unless they are on the list submitted to security.

McKean County Recorder of Deeds will be closed for public access until April 13, 2020. Land records are available online at Documents will be accepted for recording by mail or by E-Recording. Anne Bosworth, Recorder of Deeds, can be reached by email or direct dial phone at 814-887-3250.

“At this time, we are conducting all meetings by conference call as much as possible,” said County Commissioner Cliff Lane. Conference call technology will be available for the public to participate in next week’s commissioners meeting, scheduled for Wednesday. State employees may not travel and conferences have been canceled. Locally, we are asking that non-essential meetings be canceled or held by telephone. We must utilize technology at every opportunity.”

McKean County Chief Clerk, Pamela Burlingame indicated that protocols have been changed by the Office of Open Records regarding Sunshine Laws and Right to Know requests. “The immediate impact is that we must provide two-way communication access to the public for any meetings where official business will take place. The County is well-leveraged to maintain our regular meeting schedule and proceed with essential business.”

In a briefing this morning of county officials, Burlingame was named as the McKean County Public Information Officer to manage news releases to the media. The county will place a legal notice for information regarding next week’s regular bi-monthly commissioners meeting. The media will be notified on how the public may access that meeting.

Tracy Carl, director of McKean County emergency services added, “We are in contact with the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA) and are getting updates every day, if not multiple times in one day. We have taken inventory of our equipment and are doing all we can to meet the needs of our first responders and to monitor any incoming 911 calls as they may be related to COVID 19.”

Commissioner Kreiner added, “The most important thing people can do right now is to work together to reduce the transmission of this virus. We all need to make sure we know the facts, and that we follow the information on social distancing, hand washing and staying home. If you do become ill, you are advised to call your healthcare provider so our hospitals do not get overwhelmed. If we all remain diligent and follow procedures we can ease the burden and preserve our resources.”