Public access to increase for Garfield County, other government offices as COVID-19 restrictions relax
Conducting municipal and county business in-person might soon get easier throughout Garfield County.
But one county office in particular will still be limiting person-to-person interactions due to an inexperienced staff.
The Garfield County Clerk’s Office has made various in-person appointments for various transactions since July of 2020, according to County Clerk Jean Alberico.
Alberico said staff are currently working through a soft opening and will officially be allowing walk-in customers from 8:30-11 a.m. and 2-4 p.m. beginning May 17.
“It took us several months to figure out how to efficiently help customers with remote transactions so we need to take some time to get back into working with walk-in customers,” Alberico said. “I had two long- term Motor Vehicle Clerks sell their homes recently and move out of state. The new team members started on May 3rd.”
Alberico said the two new employees will need weeks, if not months of training to get on the frontline working with customers.
“Having limited hours for now will let us bring in customers while still keeping up with title work filed remotely, on-line renewals, mail-in renewals, the abundance of title work submitted by dealers and lenders for new purchases,” Alberico said.
License plates can be renewed online, by mail or by using the drop box at the Glenwood Springs or Rifle offices.
Marriage licenses are issued by appointment only.
The County Assessor’s office is open to the public, with customers encouraged to wear masks.
For those still uncomfortable meeting in-person, Garfield County Assessor Jim Yellico said almost any business can be done remotely through use of email, phone or Zoom calls.
At the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office, masks are required in areas open to the public and social distancing is encouraged when possible.
“We certainly look forward to a time when we can completely return to normal (pre-COVID-19) practices not only as we interface with the public but as we go about our normal training practices, meetings and community outreach programs,” said Walter Stowe, public information officer for the sheriff’s office.
“This will ultimately be better for the mental and physical health not only of our staff but the people we serve.”
Court hearings can still be attended virtually as well.
Government offices in Glenwood Springs are transitioning to serve the public in-person in a limited capacity to ensure staff and customers alike limit their potential exposure to COVID-19.
Bryana Starbuck, the city’s public information officer, said city council will hash out the details of how to move forward with reopening council chambers to the public during Thursday’s meeting.
The city is currently reviewing those who responded to a request for proposals to design and install new audio-visual equipment in the council chambers.
Currently, the chamber uses technology ranging from two to 20 years old, including some that have become less reliable and can’t fulfill the city’s needs, according to meeting documents.
“The high-level goal for this project is to redesign the technology in council chambers for ease of use and reliability while hosting internal, external, and public hybrid meetings,” the documents state. “The room should feel inclusionary and accommodate (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliance and Spanish language translation.”
City offices are still meeting with customers in-person by appointment. Utility bill payments, and other various transactions, can be completed online at the city’s website.
• Easy switching between broadcasting from the room or using the room for video conferencing.
• Highly reliable functionality.
• Allow for high quality hybrid virtual/in-person meetings.
• Talk timer that visually counts down three minutes with the option to adjust time.
• Easy viewing of presentations, virtual attendants, and talk-timer count-down from all seating areas via commercial grade televisions throughout the room.
• Personal table microphones and speakers for seven seats at the dais and three additional seats at the front of the room for the Clerk, City Manager, and City Attorney.
• Clerk must be able to record audio from their seat in chambers.
• Voting System
• Concurrent Spanish language translation
• ADA Compliance
“We strongly prefer to not utilize transitory wireless or handheld microphones for video conferencing,” the request for proposal documents state.
“Existing equipment may be reused if appropriate. The City IT department will provide any required Windows PCs or computer monitors.”
The contractor chosen to provide the required product and installation services will begin to do so starting Monday.
Reporter Shannon Marvel can be reached at 605-350-8355 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Officer Haley Walker sat beside her stepmother in a windowless interrogation room just before starting the overnight shift on Thursday evening.