County’s reopening plan underway

By Jason Evans

Staff Reporter

PICKENS — County officials held a virtual briefing Friday morning on the plan to “Kickstart Pickens County.”

“The purpose of this morning’s conversation and briefing is to give you some ideas about the way that Pickens County is going to come out of the COVID-19 situation here over the next few weeks,” acting county administrator Ken Roper said.

Reopening in “measured, incremental steps” allows the county to respond “if situations change,” he said.

“The idea here is that we are adaptable to circumstances,” Roper said. “It gives us some adaptability in a situation that we know is changing.”

The county’s parks, recreation and tourism department created the “Kickstart Pickens County” concept, and it was developed further “at the department head level,” Roper said.

“The idea is we’re keeping a wary eye on the circumstances, but we all need to come together, we all need to recommit ourselves, we all need to head into this summer unified in how we’re responding,” he said. “We need a motivational step. We need a kickstart. We need to remind ourselves that there are things we can do to help in this situation, and we don’t need to get lax.”

Local government “has services that the local citizens desperately need,” Roper said.

“While it might be easy for us to hide behind our doors and hope for this to play out, we in the local government need a kickstart,” he said.

“Kickstart Pickens County is a three-phase plan, with each phase set out “roughly over a two-week period,” Roper said.

In Phase 1, “local government starts opening up a little, but (it’s) mainly preparing for Phase 2,” he said.

Phase 1 kicked off on Monday.

“Based on current conditions, there are limited ways that we can open starting on Monday,” Roper said Friday.

The Phase 2 target date is May 18. That phase would see local government “open up a little more,” Roper said.

“Then our goal is on June 1 for us to open up fully, but with new procedures, new safety measures to protect both the public and our county workers,” he said. “The primary thing we’re worried about here is the safety of the public and the safety of our county workers.”

Officials are seeing the county’s number of positive COVID tests “is staying relatively stable,” Roper said.

In recognition of that relative stability, the county “will begin opening up some things during Phase 1,” he said.

County officials invited municipalities and outside agencies to adopt the three-phase reopening framework “so we can all be coordinated together,” Roper said.

“Obviously, the municipalities (and) the outside agencies have their own determinations to make, and we respect that,” he said.

In Phase 1, the airport will offer more fuel services, Roper said.

The Register of Deeds office will allow attorneys and paralegals back into the office by appointment during Phase 1.

The clerk of court will allow attorneys and paraglegals to drop off documents and make appointments during Phase 1, and the probate court will begin taking appointments for emergency hearings.

“They’re still going to encourage people to do things like marriage license applications through the mail,” Roper said.

Voter registration will allow people to begin making appointments and allowing people to come in.

“So call voter registration in advance — you’ll be able to come in and do your business there,” Roper said.

The county museum will open for regular hours, although programming will be delayed until a later date.

“So we encourage you to visit the Pickens County Museum starting May 4,” Roper said.

The Pickens County Library System is offer service via the drive-thrus at the branches that have them, he said.

Several other departments were set on Monday “to start preparing in earnest for Phase 2,” Roper said.

“So we can, as quickly as possible, get back to more access for you, the citizens,” he said.