BEATRICE – The Gage County Courthouse and all county buildings are closing effective immediately, with public business being conducted by appointment, only…or online.  The county board took that action Wednesday, and signs were going up today noting the closure…a precautionary move due to the coronavirus and COVID-19 threat.


"Closure of the exterior doors....staff would still be actively working. Outside people would either call, e-mail, text or drop things off at the dropbox".


Gage County Board Chairman Erich Tiemann says the goal is to continue to do business, but with limited interaction with the public. A statement containing contact information of various county offices was to be placed on the county’s website and will be posted on doors to county buildings. Gage County Court and District Courts will remain open. The courts had previously established a limit of no more than ten people in the courtroom.


"What we had discussed before, it you need to come into the building, Sergeant Davidson or some of his staff in the courthouse will go down to the door and escort them to the appropriate office, so we don't have people wandering around in the halls. But this will just tighten up the actual courthouse shell and still allow business to proceed, but limit the exposure to the staff here, in the courthouse".


The decision to close will go on indefinitely, with county officials periodically reviewing recommendations by health officials and trends with the coronavirus.
Courthouse Security Sergeant Bryan Davidson said today that one possibility is to set up a table at the ground floor east side entrance of the courthouse, to help handle public requests for service.


"For example, the treasurer's office has dealers that bring in titles to be done. The can call and prearrange to meet someone down at the entrance. That way, we are limiting access to just that one smalll area".


Previously, Jefferson and Saline Counties made similar decisions to close public buildings. Tiemann said most counties in the state are doing likewise.


"This will be an inconvenience. But, we are lucky to live in 2020 where we have the digital age and we can process things online".
On Monday, the county’s highway department closed their office to the public, but normal department operations are continuing.


Gage County was among the last counties in southeast Nebraska that had been completely open to the public during the coronavirus threat.