Local governments wade through ever-changing landscape

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Local governments have had to adjust on the fly as orders have come from the state on how to deal with everything from elections to restrictions on businesses and gatherings.

With some provisions of the state’s open meetings laws waived to allow government bodies to hold meetings via teleconference, Wood County and the city of Mineola have jumped in to hold their meetings using a call-in or log-in teleconference service.

Wood County held a special meeting Friday at which County Judge Lucy Hebron added the county to a growing list of those to declare a public health emergency.

Commissioners continued using the teleconference service for the regular meeting Tuesday.

The city of Mineola utilized the same service for its monthly meeting Monday night.

The governor’s waiver requires the bodies to include access instructions when posting the meetings.

Governments are also looking at delays to upcoming elections.

Gov. Greg Abbott postponed the party primary runoff elections, set to be held May 26, until July 14.

That impacts two Wood County races, the runoffs for county sheriff and Precinct 1 commissioner.

Tom Castloo and Kelly Cole are in the runoff for sheriff while Virgil Holland and Keith Gilbreath made the commissioner’s runoff.

At the city and school district level, entities have been given the opportunity to postpone the May 2 elections until the November 3 general election.

If entities take advantage of that opportunity, the persons already serving on the boards and councils would continue to serve until the November election results.

Visitation has been curtailed at the Wood County jail.

Cities and the county have postponed most judicial proceedings, and the county courthouse shifted to limited availability as all governments have stressed that citizens can conduct most business electronically and by phone.

City halls have also gone to restricted access. The city of Mineola suspended use of its drive up window Monday.

The city of Quitman announced that clean-up days Friday and Saturday will still be held.

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