The Bounceback: Clay County public buildings remain closed until June 1

While other buildings and businesses throughout Clay County began reopening Monday, May 4, Clay County-run facilities remain closed with this notice on the doors. While some outdoor amenities will begin to reopen May 16, many county buildings like the Administration Building and Annex, will not reopen until June 1.

CLAY COUNTY — Ahead of the Monday, May 4, expiration of stay-home orders issued by Clay County Public Health Center, Clay County assistant county administrators rolled out their plan for the reopening of county-run facilities and parks. The plan was approved by county commissioners Friday, May 1, and includes many public facilities remaining closed until June 1. When facilities do open, they must adhere to Clay County Public Health Center guidelines requiring social distancing.

Assistant County Administrator for Public Services Nicole Brown said the plan allows county staff time to create staff guidelines for offices, install protections where and if needed and acquire personal protective equipment for staff. As the county facility plan mirrors recommendations from county public health, Brown said it is flexible and extended closures can be added if needed for safety in the event of spikes in COVID-19 infection rates.

“We really want to stress that as things progress, it's important for people to remember to check the county's website for updates on open and closure details and for people to call ahead for those facility openings,” she said. The county website is www.claycountymo.gov.

Closed until June 1

Under the plan, the County Administration Building and Shrader Building in downtown Liberty, Clay County Annex in Kansas City, Clay County Historic Sites and county Highway Department office remain closed to the public and nonessential employees until June 1. The county administration and Annex facilities house space for elected offices of county clerk, auditor, recorder of deeds, collector and assessor as well as University of Missouri Extension and assistant county administrators. The Shrader Building houses planning and zoning, code enforcement, the public defender and IT departments.

While these facilities are closed to the public, elected officeholders and senior commission staffers are determining which employees can work remotely or from county offices.

“Separately elected officials of the county operate independently of the commission, and the best way possible to be informed about ongoing county services provided through their offices is to contact officeholders (assessor, collector, et. al) individually. Contact information for Clay County elected officials is on the Clay County website,” states the plan.

Historic sites remaining closed until June 1 are: the Jesse James Farm and Museum in rural Kearney, Mt. Gilead Church and School in Kearney and Pharis Farm in Liberty.

In addition to historic sites, some public areas in county-run parks will also remain closed until June 1. Shelter houses, swim beaches, playgrounds and campgrounds at Camp Branch and Crow's Creek at Smithville Lake remain closed.

Opening May 16

While many public spaces will not open until June 1, some county facilities will open earlier on Saturday, May 16. Opening May 16 are the county parks and recreation office and marina bait shops at Camp Branch and Paradise Pointe at the lake as well as fishing boat and pontoon rentals at Camp Branch. While the bait shop will not open at Camp Branch until May 16, boat fueling services have remained open during stay-home orders and will continue to remain open under the plan.

Clay County Circuit Court, which receives its closure directives not from the county but from the state and federal court system, extended its suspension of in-court proceedings through Friday, May 15. For updates on the court, visit www.circuit7.net.

Still open

While some facilities will not open until later this month or in June, several county-run, outdoor amenities have remained open during countywide stay-home orders. Amenities that have remained open include Smithville Lake trails and restrooms, lake boat slip access for slipholders, boat ramps, parking lots, fishing docks, disc golf courses and Paradise Point Golf Complex.

While Presiding Commissioner Jerry Nolte said he would like to see county facilities open sooner, associate commissioners Gene Owen and Luann Ridgeway praised staff for creating a plan that helps keep staff and members of the public safe.

“I think this is a good, reasonable plan,” said Ridgeway.

Managing Editor Amanda Lubinski can be reached at amanda.lubinski@mycouriertribune.com or 903-6001.

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