Mike Leonhard (pictured) was the only Jay County Commissioner in attendance in person Tuesday afternoon at an emergency meeting of Jay County Commissioners. Chad Aker (via Leonhard's cell phone, at left) and Chuck Huffman attended by phone. (The Commercial Review/Jack Ronald)
Mike Leonhard (pictured) was the only Jay County Commissioner in attendance in person Tuesday afternoon at an emergency meeting of Jay County Commissioners. Chad Aker (via Leonhard's cell phone, at left) and Chuck Huffman attended by phone. (The Commercial Review/Jack Ronald)
The vote was unanimous, even though only one Jay County Commissioner was in the room.

Meeting via a telephone connection for the first time in local history, commissioners approved closing all non-essential operations of county government for the next two weeks to come into compliance with Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb’s stay-at-home order.

“We feel we need to identify non-essential employees who should stay home,” said commissioners president Chuck Huffman.

Departments deemed to be essential as a result of action taken in an emergency meeting Tuesday afternoon include:

•Jay Emergency Medical Service

•Jay County Security Center

•All county law enforcement

•Jay County Retirement Center

•Jay County Health Department

Beyond that, the determination of which employees and tasks are essential will be left up to department heads and individual elected officials.



Mike Leonhard, who was the only commissioner physically present at the meeting, urged that latitude, noting that different departments have specific needs that have to be dealt with periodically “to make sure things are flowing.”

Huffman, who was on speaker phone, and commissioner Chad Aker, who was connected via Leonhard’s cellphone, agreed.

The new policy in response to the COVID-19 pandemic takes effect at midnight Tuesday and remains in effect through April 6.

At the urging of Jay Circuit Court Judge Brian Hutchison, there will continue to be limited public access to the courthouse. Only the south courthouse doors will be open, and those will be open from 8 to 12:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

“The public is going to need access,” said Hutchison, citing such things as civil protective orders and child support payments. “Those are not the kinds of things we want to interrupt.”

Following the meeting Tuesday, several departments announced their status for the next two weeks:

•Jay County Highway Department will follow its on-call procedures

•Jay/Portland Building and Planning will work only when absolutely necessary.

•The courthouse superintendent will work only when absolutely necessary in order to clean the courthouse and annexes.

A courthouse security officer will be present to screen those entering the building.

County auditor Anna Culy noted that individual elected officials and department heads will have the authority to call in staff as needed for essential tasks.

“Everyone gets paid their normal hours” during the emergency closing, said Huffman.

Under county policy, those who are called in to work during the closure will receive either additional straight-time pay or compensatory time.

“Most people will stay home,” said Culy.