**UPDATE 2:00 p.m. March 23: See instructions on how the Probate Office will still be able to serve you at the bottom of this article.**
March 23, 2020. 10:00 a.m. — The Bibb County Commission called an emergency meeting for a second time in two weeks, to discuss the possible closure of county buildings to public access. The stipulation was that functional operations would continue with alternate methods, limiting access physically to all those who would otherwise walk in to speak with someone or pay a bill in person.
They began with an update from County EMA Director Kirk Smith. “Bibb County is doing well,” Smith began. Adding, “People are calm.” According to Smith, Bibb Medical Center and Cahaba Medical Care had been running low on personal protective equipment (PPE) for employees. The Forestry Service went on a trip and retrieved five pallets of PPE for them over the weekend.
The drive-thru testing that was done Saturday was not very busy, according to Smith, testing somewhere between 30 and 40 individuals. Those test results are expected to be back in approximately three to five days. All total, Bibb has sent out roughly 150 tests since this started. Only 31 have had results returned, and all were negative.
Statewide, as of last report, there are 157 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Alabama. 71 of those are in Jefferson County, and 16 in Shelby County.
Smith said that medical offices locally are requesting patients call in and attempt to handle as much care as possible remotely.
Closing the Doors
County Administrator Derek Reeves said he had spoken with other county’s administrators and many are closing their doors, some are even closing down operations and sending employees home. The proposal presented to Commissioners in Bibb is to go ahead and lock the doors to keep physical access by the public to an absolute minimum, while keeping employees on the job and governmental functions operational. Probate, for example, would be doing as much as possible online, over the phone, and possibly open the now blocked-off drive-thru window on the building at court square.
Discussion ensued as Commissioner Keefe Burt asked, “What does this change? What changes if someone in the building gets it?” Burt implied that it would be just as bad and they would have to close down anyway. He also reminded everyone that a provision was already in place to close the buildings at the trigger of a first confirmed case in the county.
Kirk Smith commented that being adjacent to the biggest hotspots of positive cases in the state – Jefferson and Shelby counties – makes us potentially more vulnerable, and he feels we should be taking all the same precautions that others are taking.
Commissioner Sammy Holdsambeck mentioned the measures taken or not in Italy, and how the Italians have suffered massive losses of life.
It was also mentioned that county offices, probate office, and the jail are all being cleaned daily already, and extra cleaning supplies are delivered to them regularly.
After negotiating some finer points of how it would all be handled, Commissioner Holdsambeck made motion to lock the doors of county buildings to prevent public access, while keeping functions active and business processing as close to normal as possible. This would include a mandatory opening of the drive-thru window on the probate annex building (which used to be a bank building), even if it only is able to be opened as a walk-up window because of the current construction project. Fencing and construction materials will have to be moved, and it is not clear as to whether a full “drive-thru” lane is possible to achieve.
“I don’t want to limit functional access, but we do want to limit [physical contact] with the public,” Holdsambeck said.
Satisfied with the compromises, the motion passed unanimously, with all Commissioners present except James Kelly.
Offices are now in process of shutting the doors. Because of the complexity of opening the drive-thru at the probate office – moving concrete set fence posts, etc – that office is expected to be closed to walk-in service starting tomorrow March 24.
From Probate Judge Stephanie Kemmer on March 23, 2020:
In light of the current situation, and in an attempt to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the Bibb County Courthouse Annex will be closed to the public until April 6, 2020. We will remain fully staffed and available to assist over the telephone and as outlined below. We appreciate your understanding and apologize for any inconvenience this may cause. Services in the probate office will continue to be provided as follows:
Tag renewals – we can take credit card payments over the phone at 205-926-3104 or our online service can be utilized at www.bibbal.com
The Department of Revenue has extended the grace period through April 15, 2020 so late fees will not be assessed on tags due in March until April 16, 2020.
Driver’s Licenses – can be renewed online at www.alea.gov.
If you renewed your driver’s license online last renewal period and therefore are not eligible to renew online, please contact us at 205-926-3104 to schedule an appointment.
Hunting/Fishing Licenses – can be obtained online at www.outdooralabama.com
Call 205-926-3104 if you need an in person service or to use our walk up window (formerly the drive-through window).
Land and Probate Records can be searched at http://www.syscononline.com/wts
If you are a title searcher, abstractor, or attorney, etc. in need of in-person searches, please contact our office at 205-926-3104 to schedule an appointment or to use our walk up window (formerly the drive-through window).
Recording or Probate court filings can be done by appointment. Please contact us at 205-926-3104 to schedule or to use our walk up window (formerly the drive-through window).
Marriage Certificates – visit www.alabamapublichealth.gov How to find:
- Select Certificates, Licenses and Permits.
- Select Birth, Death, Divorce and Marriage Certificate.
- Select Marriage Certificates.
- Complete form, have signed and notarized.
- Call and schedule an appointment for recording within 30 days of the last signature. The cost is $72.