SIGN OF THE TIMES: Bill Reichenbach finishes putting an inspirational message on the marquee at the Park Theatre Civic Centre Tuesday afternoon. The theater is closed until further notice because of the coronavirus crisis. It is among numerous historic theaters nationwide electing to display the message on their marquees. —Staff Photo by Bryce Mayer
Toilet paper cannot always be found on shelves in North Vernon stores these days, but there was some available Tuesday at Dollar General’s Buckeye Street store. Retailers are also limiting quantities that can be purchased by each customer. See related story on page 5A.—Staff Photo by Bryce Mayer
The city government in North Vernon and the town government in Vernon are following public health advice and guidance from local, state and federal agencies to take precautionary and preparatory measures to limit the local impact of COVID-19 (coronavirus).
So are other local entities, including the Jennings County Public Library, the Vernon Cemetery, the Park Theatre Civic Centre and the Jennings County Farmers' Market.
City of North Vernon
Mayor Mike Ochs has directed all city buildings to be closed except for emergency purposes. That includes the Carnegie Government Center, which serves as the city hall.
"We're experiencing extraordinary times," Ochs said. "Together we will get through this pandemic and be better neighbors for it."
Ochs has met with the heads of all city departments and with them has decided how city operations will continue.
"Each department head will attempt to economize the use of staff in order to avoid contamination between employees," Ochs said. "Each department head will decide upon the hours and when and under what circumstances the doors of their buildings will be open to the public."
City Council meetings will continue as scheduled for now but will be expedited. Nonessential matters are suspended until further notice and only matters requiring payment of claims and exigent circumstances will be considered at city meetings.
All city facilities previously available for rental to the public are closed and such rental agreements are suspended. All city sponsored athletic and sports activities through the Parks and Recreation Department, including the golf leagues at St. Annes Golf Course, are suspended until further notice. All city sponsored events which are of a social nature and nonessential are canceled and suspended.
"Your cooperation with city officials and employees is highly appreciated," Ochs added. "I ask all of you to follow the well-publicized guidelines suggested by the World Health Organization, the Center for Disease Control, the office of the President and that of Gov. Holcomb.
"Lets us all 'love thy neighbor as thyself,'" he added.
Town of Vernon
Vernon is taking similar measures as North Vernon.
The town office will remain open but closed to the public. The staff may be reached by phone at 812-346-7438 and arrangements can be made to conduct any necessary business.
Utility bill payments may be made at the drop box located at the Town Hall or at German American Bank in North Vernon.
The next Town Council meeting is still scheduled for now at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 2, at the Jennings County Government Center but will be expedited.
The Vernon Gymnasium is closed to the public until further notice.
"The public is encourage to use best practices with regard to social distancing as well as determining the need to attend any meetings," said Vernon Mayor Dan Wright.
"The Vernon Cemetery is implementing and strongly recommending social distancing as a key tool to prevent and limit the spread of COVID-19 in our community," said Wright, who is also on the cemetery board. "To achieve this goal, the cemetery's office will remain open, but closed to the general public."
The cemetery staff can be reached by phone at 812-346-5873 and arrangement may be made to conduct any business as necessary.
The annual lot owners' meeting and cemetery board meeting normally held in March have been postponed and will be rescheduled at a later date.
The Jennings County Public Library closed at 9 p.m. Monday, March 16, and will not reopen again until at least Wednesday, April 1, according to director Mary Hougland.
All materials currently loaned out will be due to be returned by Sunday, April 5. There is a drop-off box outside in front.
The Jennings County Farmers' Market is suspending its winter market on Saturdays at the North Vernon City Park until at least early April.
"We don't know what's going to happen," said Clarence Wullenweber, marketmaster.