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JASPER COUNTY — The Jasper County Courthouse will open its doors to the public on Monday, Oct. 19, albeit at a slow pace.

The Jasper County Commissioners discussed reopening the courthouse — which has been closed to the public for seven months due to the COVID pandemic — at last week’s commissioner meeting.

The commissioners have been meeting at the former youth center as well as on the Zoom platform since June. Only essential workers in the courts, clerk’s office and other county offices were allowed to be in the courthouse since March.

How the courthouse will be open to the public will be discussed this week by the commissioners. They will look specifically at how many members of the public will be allowed inside any county office at one time.

Masks will surely be mandated and CDC guidelines will be followed. Gov. Eric Holcomb’s mandate on masks expires on Oct. 17, but he could possibly extend it for two more weeks. He will make an announcement on Wednesday during his televised weekly briefing.

The courts did conduct business last month, spreading juries out in the pews reserved for public seating. Only a handful of people were allowed to occupy the courts at one time and the same is expected with county offices.

Some county offices met with city and county residents outside the courthouse during the summer, but that will be impractical with winter looming.

Despite closing the courthouse, as many as three office workers tested positive for COVID-19 or were sick with COVID.

In related news, the county recently reported its third death due to COVID last week. The county has 455 positive cases with 12 new cases last week.

The commissioners also reviewed two bids to seal, coat and paint the parking lot at the Community Corrections site on State Road 114. The commissioners took the lowest bid of $24,050.