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Information about Douglas County services amid COVID-19 pandemic

Friday, May 1, 2020 - 4:30pm

In an effort to protect the health and safety of Douglas County employees and the community, Douglas County will continue to restrict public access to all Douglas County buildings until at least May 18. The campgrounds and restrooms at Lone Star Lake also will remain closed.

“Our top priority is the health and safety of our community and employees,” County Administrator Sarah Plinsky said. “All essential services remain operational and employees are ready to assist the public by phone and email.”

Many services are available online at douglascountyks.org and can be found by Department.

The public access restrictions apply to:

  • Douglas County Courthouse, 1100 Massachusetts St. – Treasurer’s Office, County Clerk’s Office, Register of Deeds, Appraiser, GIS and Administration. The Courthouse will be opened to the public for meetings of the Board of County Commissioners in accordance with the Kansas Open Meetings Act. Information about meetings can be found at douglascountyks.org/commission/meetings.
  • 1006 New Hampshire – Criminal Justice Services, Community Corrections, Community Service, Sustainability and Heritage Conservation Council.
  • Douglas County Fairgrounds buildings and arenas, 2120 Harper St. K-State Research and Extension – Douglas County will make decisions about its operations.
  • Douglas County Public Works and Zoning and Codes, 3755 E. 25th St.
  • 2518 Ridge Court – Human service agencies housed inside the building will make decisions about their operations. For questions, please contact the agency.

All satellite locations for the Treasurer’s Office - two in Lawrence and one in Baldwin City - are closed.

Existing guidelines for public access apply to the Douglas County Judicial and Law Enforcement Center, Douglas County Correctional Facility and Juvenile Detention Center.

As of May 1, here's a list of Douglas County's operations:

Administration

Administration continues to meet essential services, including serving in Unified Command for this incident and providing support for the meeting of the Board of County Commissioners.  Staff have been mobilized to work from home to meet essential services and additional county priorities. Staff will be in County facilities as necessary to maintain essential service and provide for basic continuity of operations.   

Appraiser’s Office

County Appraiser staff have been mobilized to work from home for most functions. This includes informal meetings by telephone contact for valuation disagreements. Property owners have been advised to send documentation prior to the appointed call. Phones and mail is being monitored and routed appropriately.

The County Appraiser asks that residents send, via mail or e-mail to appeals@douglascountyks.org, their supporting documentation prior to the date and time of the scheduled contact. The county will provide documentation regarding the value estimate. To search for real property and personal property records, visit: https://apps.douglascountyks.org/mycounty/property-search/source.asp.

Building and Grounds

Building and Grounds staff continue meet essential custodial and maintenance services.  Custodial staff normally responsible for waste removal have been redeployed to deep clean buildings.  Several buildings provide essential services, and continue to be occupied and operational.  They will need ongoing support from Maintenance.

County Clerk

The County Clerk’s Office continues to meet essential functions with staff mobilized to work at home.  Essential functions such as Accounts Payable and Payroll, are operating effectively from staff working at home. Office phones have been forwarded to the appropriate personnel.  Appointments can be made for essential in-person functions, such as candidate filings.

The County Clerk's Office strongly encourages citizens to maintain social distancing by using the Office's online functions, emailing or calling for assistance.

Staff will be available to respond to email and telephone calls. Contact information is:

Criminal Justice Services

Criminal Justice Services – Adult Services staff is mobilized to work from home for most functions. Currently, pre-trial assessments and telephone contact can continue to be done.  CJS will not have staff in attendance at First Appearance, unless they are held in an electronic video format.  Individuals released for house arrest will report to the Juvenile Detention Center to be connected to electronic monitoring.  We have issued PPE equipment to staff who perform in-person functions.

The Detention Center will continue to operate, and be the main point of contact for any questions and communications related the CJS department. Staff is encouraging families to communicate via telephone. Residents have routine temperature checks. We are adjusting staff rotations and shifts as our needs change. We will continue to have an Administrator on-call and available should problems arise.

District Attorney

The  District Attorneys Office is temporarily closed to the public. The office continues to review cases, charge in-custody cases, and proceed with the specific hearings identified in Kansas Supreme Court Order 2020-PR-16.  During this temporary closure citizens can continue to reach the DA’s by emailing districtattorney@douglascountyks.org, and can access a vast amount of information on our website www.dgcoda.org.

District Court

The Clerk of the District Court will be open to the public Monday through Friday, 9 a.m.-3 p.m., for emergency and essential matters as defined by Chief Judge McCabria and the Kansas Supreme Court’s Administrative Orders. District Court will resume issuing marriage licenses beginning Monday, April 20. For information about the application process, visit this webpage.

Court Trustee Office

The Court Trustee Office is open to the public on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. for those who want to make an in-person cash or check payment on court-ordered support. Court Trustee staff can be contacted at 785-832-5315.

Emergency Management

Douglas County Emergency Management is serving as the Planning Section Chief for Unified Command and Manager of the Douglas County Emergency Operations Center (EOC) which includes 10 active Emergency Support Functions and two working groups.  Staff are working remotely as possible to limit exposure and have implemented security protocols inside the EOC.

Information Technology

IT has begun telecommuting and meeting essential information technology needs from home. There will be 2 to 3 people onsite to deal with hardware issues.  Phone lines to the department are being answered.

Public Works

The Lone Star Campground and restroom is closed, but open areas at the lake are open to the public.

Designated Superintendents will remain on duty to patrol County Roads for safety issues and on-call to address any identified safety issues.  Reduced Fleet services will be available to assist in meeting essential service needs for County vehicles.  Engineering staff have begun working from home to meet essential services and support any additional functions that can be accomplished. Any construction contracts that have already been authorized may continue as contractors and staff are available.    

While most field services have been reduced or eliminated, Public Works is ensuring that adequate field personnel is available in the event of a natural disaster or other emergency event, as well as to perform any critical road and bridge maintenance items.

Beginning Monday, May 4, Public Works staff will be available for noxious weed chemical sales. Orders must be placed in advance by calling 785-331-1322.

Register of Deeds

Essential staff will be working on Electronic Recordings from home. Other staff maybe mobilized to assist from home as well.  All Douglas County Register of Deed records can be accessed remotely at: https://landmark.douglascountyks.org/LandmarkWeb/Account/LogOn.

Online copy fees are the same as in-office copy fees. 

Documents for recording can be submitted through any of the Office's four e-recording providers listed at https://www.douglascountyks.org/depts/register-of-deeds/e-recordings.

Or, they can be mailed to:
Register of Deeds
1100 Massachusetts Street, Unit 310
Lawrence, KS 66044

Staff will be available to answer telephone calls at 785-832-5282 and respond to email at rod@douglascountyks.org.

Sheriff’s Office

The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office continues to meet essential services and provide public safety to the community.  As an essential agency the majority of the Sheriff’s Office staff are still reporting for duty, an extremely limited number of personnel were able to be sent home. The Sheriff continues to work with other law enforcement and first responder agencies in the county to address the public health emergency and support the orders issued by the Douglas County Public Health Officer. Patrol deputies are handling calls via telephone whenever possible and use available PPE for in-person response. 

The Douglas County Correctional Facility has suspended work release programs and inmate visitation for the duration of the Public Health Officer’s orders; inmates are being granted two free 15-minute phone calls during this period in addition to their regular paid phone time. All individuals entering the correctional facility are receiving additional screening for symptoms of the virus and appropriate measures are being taken. The Sheriff’s Office is working closely with the District Court to support Administrative Orders put forth by Chief Judge McCabria.  Public fingerprinting services and foreclosure sales at the Law Enforcement Center have been suspended.

Additional updates and information can be found on the Sheriff’s Office website and social media channels: www.DGSO.org , https://www.facebook.com/dgsosheriff/, https://twitter.com/DGSOSheriff.

Treasurer

The Douglas County Treasurer’s Office is asking for the public’s help in meeting essential services while employees work from home.  All offices are closed until further notice. Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly has ordered a 60-day extension past the last day of the month that your vehicle registration is due. This also applies to vehicle purchases and driver's licenses.

Currently, there are three options for renewal:

  • Online at ikan.ks.gov    
  • Mail to: P.O. Box 884, Lawrence, KS 66044
  • Place in the drop box at the Courthouse, 1100 Massachusetts Street, (in the south parking lot) or 2000 W 31st St. (at the east end of the parking lot).

If you have sold or traded a vehicle in, you can put the plate from the sold vehicle on the new vehicle to serve as your 60 temporary tag.

All real estate or personal property tax payment options:

  • Mail to: PO Box 668, Lawrence, KS 66044.  
  • Placed in the drop box at the Courthouse, 1100 Massachusetts Street, (in the south parking lot) or at the office at 2000 W 31st. Contact our office at 785-832-5178 for current payoff information. 
  • Online payments can be made at https://ks-douglas.manatron.com/Tabs/TaxSearch.aspx.

Zoning and Codes

In regards to Zoning, staff will be working from home to maintain essential functions.  Staff will continue to be available for zoning violation inquires, home business questions as well as working on updating CUPs, Home Businesses and Site Plans. Office phones have been forwarded to the appropriate staff. We anticipate some delays in response time.    

In regards to Codes, phone lines have been transferred to staff working from home.  Inspection services will be provided everyday as needed.  Inspection staff will alternate schedules in the field and office to adhere to social distancing with each other.  Nonessential inspections will be postponed to a later date. Staff reserves the right to not perform inspections in occupied buildings, i.e. kitchen remodel, like Lawrence and Johnson County.  Document dropoff totes have been placed at the Public Works and Zoning and Codes Building, 3755 E. 25th Street.  Electronic plan submittals are allowed and encouraged, and permits can be paid for remotely.

Media Contact

Karrey Britt, Communications Specialist
785-330-2894