Denton County to reopen government buildings

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The Denton County Courthouse on McKinney Street. (Photo courtesy of Denton County)

Denton County announced Sunday that most county buildings would reopen to the public on Monday, June 1, as part of a phased reopening plan, implementing guidelines to ensure the health and safety of both employees and the public.

In addition to the government centers in Lewisville, Denton and Frisco, which opened in mid-May, government centers in Flower Mound, Cross Roads and Carrollton will also now be open and offering services to the public.

Effective at 8 a.m. Monday, offices will reopen with 50 percent of personnel to ensure social distancing guidelines established by the state and the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control are followed.

In addition, the county:

  • Has installed temperature check stations at five locations including the County Courts Building on McKinney Street, the Denton County Public Health off Loop 288, the Juvenile detention facilities at the Charlie J. Cole Government Building on Woodrow Lane and the Elections Administration and Adult Probation on Kimberly Drive.
  • Is requiring employees to monitor their health daily and wear masks when dealing with the public or in close proximity to fellow employees.
  • Is not requiring the public to wear masks to enter public facilities, however masks and hand sanitizer will be available for use. In addition, signs have been put in place to encourage social distancing of at least 6 feet.
  • Installed plastic shields at all work stations that deal directly with the public to enhance the safety for both the employee and the public.
  • Is disinfecting and cleaning all county facilities frequently.

County Clerk

All County Clerk office locations will be open to the public beginning Monday, June 1 by appointment only.  These locations include offices in Flower Mound, Lewisville, Denton, Cross Roads, Carrollton and Frisco.

Services such as Marriage License issuance and in-person Birth/Death records requests will be limited to Denton County residents only.

Other services that were previously limited to mail-in or electronic submission only will resume Monday, June 1, allowing for in-person transactions.  These services include Real Property document recordings, Assumed Name (DBA) recordings, Plat recordings, Marks & Brand registration, DD-214 recording and/or copy issuance, and Foreclosure posting.  All services require an appointment until further notice.

Passport acceptance remains suspended at all locations until further notice.

To schedule an appointment and inquire about availability of services, please call one of the following locations:

  • Denton: 940-349-2010
  • Cross Roads: 940-349-4400
  • Carrollton:  972-434-7170
  • Frisco: 972-434-3900
  • Lewisville:  972-434-4790
  • Flower Mound: 972-434-3950

Denton County judiciary operating plan

The Office of Court Administration, effective May 26, 2020, has approved the following plan.

Recognizing the need to ensure the health and safety of litigants, attorneys, witnesses, visitors, court staff, judges, and other individuals entering the buildings housing the courts, the courts of Denton County will implement the following protective measures:

General

  1. All judges will comply with the Emergency Orders issued by the Supreme Court of Texas and Court of Criminal Appeals, including conducting in-person proceedings according to the guidance issued by the Office of Court Administration regarding social distancing, maximum group size, and other restrictions and precautions.
  2. All judges will use all reasonable efforts to conduct proceedings remotely.
  3. The local administrative district judge will maintain regular communication with the local health authority and the county judge and adjust this operating plan as necessary for conditions in the county.
  4. Judges will begin setting nonessential in-person proceedings no sooner than June 1, 2020.

Judge and Court Staff Health

  1. Judges and court staff who can perform the essential functions of their job remotely will telework when possible.
  2. Judges and court staff monitoring requirements: Judges and court staff shall self-monitor body temperature and signs or symptoms of COVID-19 before reporting to work. If a judge or staff member feels ill, or has any symptoms of COVID-19, he or she shall stay at home. A judge or staff member may also take his or her temperature upon entrance to the courthouse located at 1450 E. McKinney Street, Denton, Texas or at the District Court Administration Offices located on the third floor of that building. Both locations shall be equipped with thermometers for employee use. Judge McCary may designate temperature check locations at the Juvenile Courts Building, and each Justice of the Peace may designate a temperature check location for the respective Justice Court Building.
  3. Judges or court staff who feel feverish or have measured temperatures equal to or greater than 100.0° F, or with new or worsening signs or symptoms of COVID-19, such as a cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, loss of taste or smell, diarrhea, or having known close contact with a person who is confirmed to have COVID-19 will not be permitted to enter the building and should seek medical advice.
  4. Judges and court staff will be encouraged to wear face coverings where social distancing cannot be achieved. Judges may also require, in his or her discretion, the wearing of protective masks (or other protective measures) in the courtroom and shall practice social distancing and appropriate hygiene as recommended by the Denton County Public Health Department.
  5. Protective measures: The Courts shall utilize, to the extent possible, and be subject to the guidelines contained herein, the following protective measures for the staff and public: wearing of surgical masks (or equivalent), frequent handwashing or sanitizing, social distancing of six (6) feet or more, Plexiglas shields between employees and the public, wearing of latex (or equivalent) gloves, door wedges, frequent cleaning and sanitizing of public areas and distance or seating markers.

Scheduling

  1. The following court policies are established to reduce occupancy in the court building:

– Judges may require remote hearings for essential and nonessential matters

– Court Administrators, to the extent possible, shall stagger cases to limit the number of people in the courtroom

– In-person Announcement/ Arraignment dockets, to the extent possible, shall be limited to attorneys and prose defendants, unless alternate locations are available wherein social distancing protocols can be followed

– Jury impanelment shall be conducted at an alternate county facility, to wit: Emergency Services Building, 3900 Morse Street, Denton, Texas, or a similarly configured location that provides for social distancing protocols. Said jury panels shall be summonsed on a more frequent basis to allow for smaller gatherings. County and District Court voir dire shall be conducted in the central jury room, or a similarly configured location that provides for social distancing protocols.

Vulnerable Populations

  1. Individuals who are over age 65 and individuals with serious underlying health conditions, such as high blood pressure, chronic lung disease, diabetes, obesity, asthma, and those whose immune systems are compromised, such as by chemotherapy for cancer or other conditions requiring such therapy, are considered to be vulnerable populations.
  2. Each judge may include information on orders setting hearings, docket notices, and in other communications notifying individuals who are in vulnerable populations of the ability to contact the court to identify themselves as a vulnerable individual and receive accommodations. A notice with this information will be posted on the courts’ websites and in conspicuous locations around the court building (a copy of which is attached).
  3. Vulnerable populations who are scheduled for court will be accommodated, if possible, by rescheduling the matter or allowing remote access or being excused from jury duty, as applicable.

Social Distancing

  1. All persons not from the same household who are permitted in the court building will be required to maintain adequate social distancing of at least six (6) feet.
  2. No more than two individuals, not from the same household, will be permitted in an elevator. If more than one individual from the same household is in an elevator, no other individuals will be permitted in the elevator.
  3. Each restroom has been evaluated to determine the appropriate capacity to ensure social distancing and the maximum capacity has been posted on each restroom door.
  4. Public common areas, including break rooms and snack rooms, have been closed to the public.

Gallery

  1. The maximum number of persons permitted in the gallery of each courtroom has been determined and posted. The maximum capacity of the courtroom will be monitored and enforced by court staff.
  2. Seating shall be limited to comply with social distancing protocols and shall be limited to every other row if social distancing cannot be maintained using every row.

Well

  1. In each courtroom, the counsel tables, witness stand, judge’s bench, and clerk, court reporter, and bailiff seating have been arranged in such a way so that there is social distancing of at least six (6) feet between each space.

Hygiene

  1. Hand sanitizer dispensers have been placed at the entrances to the building, outside of elevators on each floor, outside of each courtroom, and outside of bathrooms.
  2. Tissue and trash cans have been placed near the door of the courtroom, at counsel tables, at the witness stand, on the judges’ benches, and in the hallways.
  3. The Department of State Health Services “Stop the Spread of Germs” flyer has been posted in multiple locations on each floor of the court building.

Screening

  1. Signs will be posted at the entrances to the court buildings stating: “If you have a fever, cough, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, or have been in close contact with a person who is confirmed to have COVID-19, DO NOT ENTER the court building.” Signs will be in English and Spanish.
  2. An infrared thermometer to determine the temperature of the individual will be available for self-screening at the entrance to the courts building located at 1450 E. McKinney Street, Denton, Texas. The use of said thermometer will be encouraged but not required.
  3. Inmates being transported from the jail to the court building will be screened for symptoms of COVID-19 and have their temperature taken prior to transport. Inmates with symptoms or a temperature equal to or above 100.0° F will not be transported to the court building.

Face Coverings

  1. All individuals entering the court building will be encouraged to wear face coverings at all times.
  2. Individuals will be encouraged to bring cloth face coverings with them, but if the individual does not have a cloth face covering, a disposable facemask will be provided.
  3. Individuals required to be in the court building for over one hour will be provided surgical masks and encouraged to wear them while in the court building if the supply is available.

Cleaning

  1. Court building cleaning staff will clean the common areas of the court building so that common spaces are cleaned at least two times per day.
  2. Court building cleaning staff will clean the courtrooms at least one time during the business day and at the end of each day the courtroom is used.
  3. Court building cleaning staff have been provided cleaning supplies shown to be effective with this coronavirus.
  4. Court building cleaning staff have been trained on proper cleaning techniques and provided appropriate personal protective equipment.

Denton County Public Health

Beginning May 4, Denton County Public Health clinics will re-open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on a reduced schedule and by appointment only. Clinical schedules will be reduced to facilitate physical distancing within lobby areas and appointments will be required to manage staggering appointments for limited person-to-person exposure.

To schedule an appointment at our Denton location, please call 940-349-2900.  To schedule an appointment for our Lewisville location, please call 972-434-4700.

Denton County WIC clinics remain open and continue curbside services in Denton, Lewisville and Carrollton. WIC participants should call their respective clinic upon arrival for further instructions on curbside services.

Indigent healthcare certification will continue to occur telephonically. Lobby access for Indigent Care will be restricted to limit person-to-person exposure.

Community members seeking health services at DCPH are encouraged to call the clinic for additional information and to schedule an appointment. Group classes, such as car seat distribution and group education, remain cancelled until further notice.

District Clerk’s Office

The District Clerk’s Office will open on June 1. All services will be offered except for copy requests.  The District Clerk’s Office goal and preference is primarily to serve members of the public who do not have the ability to file electronically.  Everyone that can file electronically should continue to do so.

Because the courts are to make all attempts to continue to have hearings remotely and the amount of public traffic in the Courthouse on McKinney is to remain minimal, e-filing documents, email of copy requests to our District Clerk Records email, and payment of fines and court costs online are continuing to be the preferred method for the foreseeable future.

Elections

Elections Administration is open for business but please check the website at votedenton.com for things that can be accomplished online such as downloading a voter registration application or application for ballot by mail.

Juvenile Court

In keeping with OCA Guidelines, Juvenile Court will continue holding Court by video and telephone for the vast majority of its cases. If you have any questions about an upcoming Juvenile Court hearing, do not hesitate to contact the Court directly at 940-349-2526.

Office of History and Culture

Out of an abundance of concern for the health and safety of all visitors, volunteers and staff due to COVID-19, the Courthouse-On-the-Square Museum and Denton County Historical Park will be closed until further notice.

As always, we appreciate your continued support in preserving and sharing Denton County’s history and culture.

Tax Assessor/Collector

The Tax Assessor Collector Office opened the Denton, Lewisville and Frisco locations on May 11.  Effective June 1, all remaining tax office locations will be open.

All offices will return to normal business hours of 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, except Holidays.

Currently service lobby capacities are limited.  Please consider using online services to pay motor vehicle registration and property tax payments:

Please visit https://tax.dentoncounty.gov for property payment online payments.

Please visit https://www.TxDMV.gov for online registration renewals.

Note:  Your printed receipt is proof of current registration renewal

Veteran Service Office 

Veteran Service Officers, who began appointments on May 11, are scheduling primarily telephone appointments. Call 940-349-2950 to schedule. Only when deemed necessary, an in-person office appointment will be available for both the Mary and Jim Horn and Precinct 3 government buildings.

We request clients that must visit the office arrive at the time of appointment, not early. No additional guests will be allowed. Please wear a face covering and bring a pen if signatures are required on applications.

NOTE: For all Driver’s License appointments, the Texas Department of Public Safety is now taking appointments during normal business hours. To learn more, visit: https://www.dps.texas.gov/DriverLicense/appointments.htm

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