WATAUGA COUNTY — The towns of Boone, Blowing Rock and Seven Devils have closed public access to their town halls, along with other town-owned buildings, each municipality explained in different March 16 statements.
“Due to health concerns associated with (COVID-19) and efforts to limit the possible transmission, the town of Boone has made the decision to prohibit public access to all town-owned public buildings,” Boone Town Manager John Ward stated on March 16.
The Jones House Community Center and Daniel Boone Park and Amphitheater will be closed for events until further notice. Boone’s town hall and other offices will be closed to the general public but will respond to citizen requests during normal business hours online or over the phone, Ward’s statement said.
“All town departments will be monitoring phones and email to provide continued to the public,” Ward’s statement said.
“The town’s outdoor open facilities will remain open, including all town-owned parks, green spaces and the Boone Greenway,” the statement continued.
In addition, Boone is asking citizens to use the town’s online payment system for utility or other payments, located at payorportal.revopay.com/southdatautility/properties/townofboone1/login. Payment by check or cash can be made at the town's drop night depository box at town hall located on the side of the building next to the driveway.
“Utilities will not be disconnected during the duration of the declaration of emergency; however, arrangements must be made for payment by calling (828) 268-6220 during normal business hours,” Ward stated.
In addition, the Boone Planning and Inspections Department is suspending code enforcement activities “except in cases involving life safety concerns,” Ward’s statement said. Boone’s Human Resources Department will be closed to walk-ins for job applications, but will accept applications online and the public works staff will continue normal operations under staggered schedules.
Ward encouraged residents with questions to reach out by phone and email. For information on the town of Boone, visit townofboone.net.
According to Blowing Rock Town Manager Shane Fox, the town hall, public works and parks and recreation public buildings until at least March 23, according to an announcement made March 16.
“Due to health concerns associated with the coronavirus (COVID-19) and efforts to limit the possible transmission, the town of Blowing Rock has made the decision to prohibit public access to all town-owned public buildings until at least Monday, March 23,” Fox’s statement said. “This date may be extended.”
Fox said that many town employees will work from home with a small staff at the offices.
Public bathrooms in Memorial Park and the outdoor bathrooms at the Blowing Rock Art and History Museum will be closed, but the town’s open outdoor facilities will remain open.
“The town of Blowing Rock will continue to provide all protection services, including fire and police, as normal,” Fox’s statement said.
In addition, sanitation pickup will be on a limited scheduled with commercial trash pickup taking place on Wednesdays only, instead of three days a week. Residential trash pickup will remain the same with Monday and Tuesday pickup. Brush pickup is also suspended until further notice.
For more information, visit townofblowingrocknc.gov.
The town of Seven Devils has initiated emergency protocols for its citizens and staff.
"Effective immediately, until further notice, all staff will continue their normal working schedules," a notice on the Seven Devils' town website from March 16 states. "New town hall will be closed to the general public; however, the drive-thru will be open during normal operational hours for payments and questions for the town clerk. Old town hall will be closed, as well, to contain any exposure. All public meetings are canceled this week; future meetings are to be determined."
Watauga County Manager Deron Geouque sent out a memo March 16 stating that all county departments and operations will remain on normal operating hours.
“Effective March 16, all nonessential in county, out-of-county and out-of-state travel and training is suspended until further notice,” Geouque’s March 16 memo stated.
Further, the Lois E. Harrill Senior Center and Western Watauga Community Center will cease congregate meals and senior center activities.
“At this time the Western Watauga Community Center branch library will remain open,” Geouque’s memo stated.
Further, all in-home aide visits related to the Watauga County Project on Aging are now provided on a case-by-case basis, with only specific services provided. Home Delivered Meals will continue, but will be monitored on a daily basis, Geouque’s memo explained.
Amy Shook, Watauga County Register of Deeds, recommended that people use the existing online services and limit in-person visits to the office. For people getting married in the next 60 days, it’s recommended to complete the marriage license application online at www.wataugacounty.org before going to the office. Additional information on the Watauga County Register of Deeds can be obtained by calling (828) 265-8052.
Beech Mountain Interim Town Manager Robert "Bob" Pudney said that while no restrictions have been implemented for town facilities, there are signs posted at entrances asking people not to enter if they're feeling sick.