Events, meetings and offices throughout the Bitterroot Valley have been closed, canceled or postponed in accordance with Ravalli County’s preparedness plans this week to limit the spread of the coronavirus.
The City of Hamilton is limiting events and meetings. Hamilton Mayor Dominic Farrenkopf said temporary changes are needed.
“Many of you have been following the news and watching as COVID-19 has started to spread throughout our region,” Farrenkopf said. “While there are no confirmed cases yet in Ravalli County, these extraordinary times call for us to follow public health recommendations to mitigate the spread of the virus as much as possible.”
He said sick people should stay home and not come to public building unless they have been fever-free for 72 hours. Hamilton City information is available at www.cityofhamilton.net.
Accommodations will be made to conduct business from home or at a later time. The city has increased cleaning and disinfecting objects and services in public buildings. Hamilton is postponing any meetings that are anticipated to be attended by more than 10 people.
“Thank you for your patience and understanding,” Farrenkopf said.
Paige Trautwein, Ravalli County clerk of District Court, said the District Court will remain open and follow the guidelines set forth by Chief Justice Mike McGrath and local District Court judges.
“It is our intent to comply with health officials’ recommendations regarding minimizing exposure to and transmission of the coronavirus, so effective immediately, we are asking that the public postpone coming to our office for passports and marriage licenses,” Trautwein said by email Tuesday. “For those needing to pay fine/fees, child support, or make other court payments, please consider calling our office and paying over the phone with your debit or credit card.”
Those who need divorce or parenting plan packets should visit www.ravalli.us and download those forms from home. All counsel should submit court pleadings via email to email@example.com. Pro Se litigants should submit pleadings via U.S. mail unless time sensitive.
“For the safety of our dedicated clerk of court staff, District Court staff, and valued customers, we are limiting the number of people assembling in our office lobby,” Trautwein said. “When appearing in person, please note and follow our service procedures as posted.”
The District Court Judges Office is working to reschedule all jury trials through April 30. Jurors currently summoned to appear should call the number on your summons to confirm that the trial in which they have been called has been vacated. Non-jury trials and hearings will be held as scheduled. All inmate appearances will be conducted via video. For further inquiries call 406-375-6710.
All programs currently scheduled by MSU Extension in Ravalli County have been canceled through April 10. This includes all agriculture, horticulture, family and consumer sciences, SNAP-ed and 4-H youth development programming. They will be giving updates if this is extended. To get answers about specific programs or classes, call 406-375-6611.
The Mill Lake Irrigation District’s Saturday meeting has been canceled, according to Linda Stephani.
“We're in the cycle right now that none of us know,” Stephani said. “I know Gov. Bullock issued an order of no meetings of 50 or more but our group decided to cancel on Sunday night.”
The Bitter Root Water Forum has closed its office to the public for the next two weeks. Executive Director Heather Barber said the Bitter Root Water Forum is “committed to doing what we can to keep our community and staff healthy and safe.”
“We will pay attention to the CDC (federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and Montana DPHHS (Department of Public Health and Human Services) recommendations going forward, and make adjustments accordingly,” Barber said. "Please don't forget during this time that there's plenty of fresh air to enjoy near local rivers and streams. May you all find peace and tranquility from the tremendous natural resources within our watershed.”
The Ravalli Electric Cooperative is postponing its 85th annual meeting that was scheduled for Saturday, March 21, due to the coronavirus pandemic, and said it wants to ensure continuity of service and well-being of employees and members.
“The safety and continued health of our members, employees, and the community is at the forefront of our decision,” says REC General Manager Mark Grotbo, noting that public health officials across the nation have recommended limiting large gatherings.
The REC office remains open at this time, but employees and the public visiting are encouraged to liberally use sanitizer available at the office. Additionally, disinfection of common areas and surfaces has been put in place.
REC management strongly encourages members to make payments online or through the SmartHub app, using the pay-by-phone system (1-877-853-6654), mail or using the dropbox in front of the building. It recognizes that it may be forced to close the lobby to the public in the days ahead, and encourages members who pay their bill in person to explore payment alternatives.
A notice to all REC Members will be sent once a new date for the annual meeting has been set.
The town of Stevensville is canceling or postponing nonessential town meetings and closing its public service window. Staff will be available to answer questions at 406-777-5271.
“While the immediate risk to our community is believed to be low at this time, we are taking these measures for the health of our employees and our neighbors.” said Mayor Brandon Dewey. “Modifications or other adjustments may occur as situations change.”
The Stevensville Town Council will not meet on March 19 or hold committee meetings this week. Council meetings will continue with a very limited agenda for essential business only; check www.townofstevensville.com for up-to-date information about meetings, cancellations and other information.
The following are temporary changes to Stevensville Town service delivery until further notice.
Payments for services can be made in the following ways:
Water/Sewer: Pay online at https://www.townofstevensville.com by clicking on pay online. Use the drop box at 206 Buck St. Mail payments to P.O. Box 30, Stevensville, 59870. Pay by phone at 777-5271.
Dog and chicken licenses: Pay online at https://www.townofstevensville.com/clerk/page/animal-licenses by clicking on pay online. Use the drop box at 206 Buck St. By phone, call 777-5271 or 777-3773.
City Court Payments: Use the drop box at 206 Buck St. or online at: https://www.citepayusa.com.
Other information: Call 777-5271 or 777-3773.
Building Code Enforcement will continue to conduct inspections by appointment. Building permits are available online at: https://www.townofstevensville.com/building. Permits can be faxed to 406-777-4284 or emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org payment for building permits will be invoiced and can be made by mail or online on the building department website. Building plans can be dropped off at Town Hall by appointment only, please call 777-3773.
The Water Division has suspended all non-emergency services in customers’ homes. Meter change-outs will not be conducted.
Walk-in Services for the Police Department are suspended. Fingerprinting appointments will not be accommodated at this time. Police administration staff can be reached at 777-3011 or 777-5271. Records requests can be completed online at: https://www.townofstevensville.com/police. Please call 9-1-1 in the case of an emergency.
City Court will hold appearances as scheduled.
Sam O’Bryne of the O’Hara Commons provided updates and encouraging words.
“We all are navigating in murky territory, figuring out how our daily lives will absorb these changes caused by the pandemic while new information and details are still unfolding,” she said. “I am amazed at how our community is coming together under circumstances that require our physical separation. This is what I admire about the Bitterroot Valley, neighbors take the time to be neighborly and we help one another. This is what makes us resilient.”
The O'Hara Commons has canceled upcoming events (the last Winter Foods Market, March 24, its Spring Membership Drive & Local Foods Faire and youth programs).
The O'Hara's tool and resource sharing libraries are available, by appointment, for members.
O’Byrne said local food growers and producers are at the crux of their early season, starting crops, raising livestock, gathering eggs and making a myriad of products for our community. For more information visit email@example.com.
This will be updated.
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