Municipal court will not be held in the Georgia cities of Summerville or Trion until at least October, Chattooga County Chief Magistrate Tracy Maddux confirmed Monday.
The city of Summerville was supposed to hold municipal court Tuesday, Maddux said, but due to the rising number of positive COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in the area, city officials decided postponing proceedings was the best course of action. The same is true for proceedings in Trion, where court would have been held Monday night.
"We are waiting on those cases to be cleared up, and once they are, we will hopefully be back. What we are trying to avoid now is the backlog we got last year when COVID was at its worst," Maddux said. "We got several months behind then and had to play catch-up, so we want to avoid that. We're not giving a number for how many days it will take before we reopen because we want to play it by ear and take it court date by court date."
Maddux said decisions about when to open proceedings again will be made with the safety of everyone involved, from employees to local residents, in mind. He said he expects the court to be able to open again soon.
"I am hopeful that we will be able to do that," he said, "This is something we've done to be cautious and because we want to give people the opportunity to get well. Once that's done, I'm hopeful we'll be able to safely get everyone back and get going, and I think we can do that faster rather than slower."
City buildings and facilities in Summerville are closed and have been since Aug. 26 due to the increasing number of COVID-19 cases. Services and assistance normally offered by city departments are still available, however. The protocol is as follows for working with each department as long as buildings and facilities remain closed:
— City Hall and Floyd County / Summerville Gas Office: Receive assistance from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday by calling 706-859-0900. To pay a bill, visit summervillega.org, use the drop box on the outside of the City Hall building or call 833-250-4484 to pay over the phone.
— Probation department: Reporting will be done over the phone at 706-859-0933. Payments can be made via money order or online at summervillepay.com. Anyone paying online must contact the probation department directly to get an ID number.
— Police department, fire department and Municipal Court: Pay fines and tickets online at summervillepay.com, over the phone at 877-575-7233 or by money order. Mailed cash or checks will not be accepted. To obtain a copy of an accident or incident report, call the Summerville Police Department at 706-859-0912 to make a request. There will be no charge for obtaining the report. To speak with an officer about a non-emergency matter, call 706-857-0750. To report a fire or other emergency, call 911.
— Public works: To report a leak, call 911.
— Recreation department: The lobby, gyms and facilities are all closed to the public. To speak with a member of the department, call 706-859-0910.
As of Monday, the Department of Public Health reported that 32% of Chattooga County residents were fully vaccinated, and 37% of residents received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. Those numbers trail vaccinations rates statewide, where 45% of all residents have been fully vaccinated.
Vaccines still are free statewide for everyone, and identification is not required when getting vaccinated.
For more information on how to get vaccinated in North Georgia, visit nghd.org or nwgapublichealth.org. Contacts for other COVID-19 vaccine providers in the area are available at vaccines.gov.
Contact Kelcey Caulder at email@example.com or 423-757-6327. Follow her on Twitter @kelceycaulder.