Cherokee County Commission discusses courthouse cleaning

CHEROKEE COUNTY, Kan. – In a meeting that seemed to show some lack in communication, commissioners in Cherokee County discuss cleaning and sanitizing at the courthouse, five months after the first positive case was confirmed in the county.

“We were just more or less trying to check to make sure we were all on the same page of what was going on,” says Commissioner Neal Anderson.

The meeting was called after the county health director recommended deep-cleaning if there is a positive case at the courthouse. That email was sent after the health director received a question about the subject by a resident. The meeting was then called by commission chairman Myra Fraizer, who interpreted the comments as the commission needing to hire an outside company to deep clean.

“In my opinion, we don’t need to waste taxpayer money when we have it handled,” said County Treasurer Raven Elmore during the special session.

Each department head and elected official went over what they’ve been doing to clean and sanitize, covering each county office, with the custodial staff sanitizing the open areas in the courthouse.

“As best as we can, yes. I mean, we can’t get it between every customer, because you know… but we do offer Germ-X at the counter, and we wipe down with Lysol as soon as we can,” explains Elmore.

“I think they’re doing a very good job from what I hear,” says Anderson.

The commission didn’t move forward with hiring a company, with the county health director saying they were doing what they needed to. They also didn’t put a specific plan in place for when a positive case is in the courthouse, opting instead to move forward on a case-by-case basis.

Commissioner Anderson says the main objective of the meeting was to make sure they were all on the same page, since it was the first time the subject has been discussed with the commissioners and elected officials all in the same room.

“With this COVID-19 like it is, we have not been able to get together with all of them, just because of the social distancing and so forth. But we do try to communicate them and just see if they’ve got concerns,” says Anderson. “We had been able to use the courtrooms if we had to spread out a little bit more. But, we may want to do that in the future.”

Commissioner Frazier, who called the meeting, declined the opportunity to comment.

There were 300 total positive cases in the county — with 56 current cases — as of September 4th. When we asked the health department if there had been any positive cases at the courthouse, they said that wouldn’t be reported unless there was more than 20 cases, since the courthouse was considered a “place of business.” In contrast, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment has started reporting active cluster lists, including at businesses and government offices, that have more than 5 cases.