Closures, Cancellations & Schedule Updates

April Planning Commission Meeting Cancelled

Due to the ongoing Health Emergency and Local State of Emergency, the April Planning Commission Meeting is cancelled. March and April Planning Commission cases will be heard at the May meeting.

Vehicle Registration Deadline Extensions

In addition to the income tax deadline extension imposed by the IRS and GA DOR, all vehicle registrations that expire between March 16, 2020, and May 14, 2020, have been extended through May 15, 2020. This extension applies to all annual registrations, including personal passenger vehicles, commercial vehicles, vehicles registered in the International Registration Plan (IRP), and Temporary Operating Permits (TOPs) issued at the time of a vehicle purchase. Registrations that expired before March 16, 2020, do not qualify for this extension.

PROBATE COURT DATE CHANGE

Arraignments set for Thursday, April 9, 2020, are rescheduled to Thursday, June 24, 2020, at 9:00 am.

PROBATE COURT RECORD SEARCH

Effective 3-14-2020 thru 4-13-2020

Search of Probate Court records will be allowed by appointment only. Records will be pulled by Clerk and can be reviewed in office waiting area.

For appointment call: 706-769-3936


Update from the Tax Commissioner’s Office

Due to staffing restrictions set in place in relation to COVID-19, we may not be able to take your phone call at this time. Please visit our website at www.oconeecountypay.com for online registration renewals and for payment of property tax and mobile home tax. You can contact our office by email at taxoffice@oconee.ga.us. Payments can be mailed or placed in the drop box at the main entrance of the courthouse on the side of the building.  We apologize for any inconvenience. Thank you for your patience.

Recreational Fields and Courts at Oconee County Parks Closed

Effective Immediately, all use of recreational fields and courts at Oconee Veterans Parks, Herman C. Michael Park, Bogart Sports Complex and Heritage Park, including soccer, softball, baseball, tennis courts, basketball courts, disc golf and playground is prohibited. Staff will be posting closure signs on the facilities. Park walking trails will remain open provided social distancing requirements are maintained. Additionally, patrons in parks are required to adhere to national recommendations of limiting groups to a maximum of 10 people and maintaining 6-feet of separation. All other pickup recreation games in park spaces are also prohibited. Failure to comply with these rules after staff enforcement may result in being banned from all Oconee County parks for a period of one year.

Solid Waste Collection Sites/Recycling Centers to Operate on Limited Schedule Beginning March 20

All Oconee County solid waste collection sites/recycling centers will operate on a limited schedule beginning Friday, March 20.  The sites will be open for self service on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday from 10 a.m. to  2 p.m. In order to limit contact between sanitation personnel and the public, attendant assistance and Pay-As-You-Throw bag sales will be unavailable at these locations. You can still purchase PAYT bags at retail locations (grocery stores and convenience stores).

Please do not leave trash or other items outside the gate when the sites are closed. Also, make sure to dispose of your items in the proper bins.  Please do not mix trash with the recycling!

In order to maintain enough storage space for everyone, we ask that you limit your use to disposal of normal household items only.

We are monitoring the situation, and hope to resume our regular schedule beginning Friday, April 3. Thank you for your understanding and cooperation.

Oconee County Government Buildings to Close to Public March 18; 

Service Via Phone, Email, and Website is Available

In response to the evolving situation surrounding Coronavirus (COVID-19) and to reduce possible transmission, all Oconee County Government buildings, including the Oconee County Courthouse, Annex, and Board of Elections, will close to the public effective Tuesday, March 17, at 5 p.m. through April 1. All emergency services will continue to function, and non-emergency staff service is available via phone, email, and the county website. This measure is being taken to protect employees and the general community in response to the national and state declarations of emergency.

Oconee County Government will continue to provide essential public safety, emergency response, and water and sewer services. In addition, the Clerk of Courts office will remain accessible to the public. Individuals who need to visit the Clerk of Courts office should call ahead to 706-769-3940. Upon arrival at the courthouse, individuals who have called ahead may call the Clerk of Courts office from their cell phone, and a deputy will admit them. 

The public is encouraged to continue to conduct county business through the website or by calling or emailing county staff. Contact information for staff and departments is available on the website. For updates on Oconee County’s response to COVID-19, please visit www.oconeecounty.com/coronavirus

The following contact information and direct links for common transactions may be helpful:

Oconee County Website
www.oconeecounty.com

Clerk of Courts
• Telephone: 706-769-3940

Finance Department
• Telephone: 706-769-2944
• Email: financedept@oconee.ga.us

Planning & Code Enforcement
• Telephone: 706-769-3910 (Planning)
• Email: druark@oconee.ga.us (Planning)
• Telephone: 706-769-3907 (Permitting)
• Email: esmith@oconee.ga.us (Permitting)

Tax Commissioner
• Telephone: 706-769-3917
• Renew vehicle registration: https://eservices.drives.ga.gov/_/ 
• Pay property taxes: https://oconeecountyga.governmentwindow.com/tax.html 
• Drop box is available for payments outside the Oconee County Courthouse

Water Resources
• Telephone: 706-769-3960
• Pay water online bill: https://www.oconeecounty.com/498/View-andor-Pay-your-Bill
• Drop box is available for payments outside the Oconee County Government Annex
• In response to the emerging COVID-19 situation, the Water Resources Department is temporarily halting the disconnection of water service for non-payment

Traffic Tickets
• Pay traffic tickets¬: https://www.ezcourtpay.com/Tix/Default.aspx

Emergency Notifications
• Sign up for CodeRED notifications: https://tinyurl.com/oconeega

Please remember to take the following steps to prevent virus transmission:
• Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands
• Avoid close contact with people who are sick
• Stay home when you are sick
• Cough or sneeze into your elbow or use a tissue to cover it, then throw the tissue in the trash
• Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces

For more information about Coronavirus, visit the Georgia Department of Public Health at https://dph.georgia.gov and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/index.html.

Tax Commissioner’s Office to Close from 1:15 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. Daily

Due to staffing considerations, the Oconee County Tax Commissioner’s Office will be closed daily from 1:15 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. for lunch until further notice.

Probate Court Updates

PROBATE TRAFFIC COURT DATE CHANGES

Bench trials set for Wednesday, March 25, 2020 are rescheduled to Wednesday, May 13, 2020 at 9:00 am.

Arraignments set for Thursday, March 26, 2020, are rescheduled to Thursday, May 21, 2020 at 9:00 am

WEAPONS CARRY LICENSE

Effective 3-16-20 thru 4-13-20 

Acceptance of applications for first time and renewal of Weapons Carry Licenses has temporarily been suspended during a Judicial Emergency period.

If you are due to renew your license during the Judicial Emergency period (March 14, 2020 thru April 13, 2020), your license will not expire. You will still be able to renew after the emergency period ends and your current license will remain valid until that time. If the April 13th date is extended, further notice will issue.

Oconee County Courts Scale Back Court Operations Until April 13

On Saturday, March 14, Chief Justice Harold D. Melton of the Georgia Supreme Court declared a statewide judicial emergency for the next 30 days. Chief Justice Melton’s order noted that “nature of this emergency is the continued transmission of Coronavirus/COVID-19 throughout the State and the potential infection of those who work in or are required to appear in our courts.” The order further states that “courts should remain open to address essential functions, and in particular courts should give priority to matters necessary to protect health, safety, and liberty of individuals.”

The judges of Oconee County and Athens-Clarke County along with representatives from the Western Circuit District Attorney’s and Public Defender’s offices, Athens-Clarke County Solicitor, Oconee County and Athens-Clarke County Clerk of Courts, and Oconee County and Athens-Clarke Sheriff’s offices met to discuss the local judiciary’s response to the Coronavirus/COVID-19 and to determine what non-essential court functions can be cancelled, postponed or otherwise rescheduled.

“All of our judges and justice partners are committed making access to justice a priority in our community,” said Chief Judge of the Superior Courts of the Western Circuit Patrick Haggard. “However, in light of the public health emergency, we support our public health officials by doing our part to curtail some court activities in order minimize large gatherings and to promote social distancing.”

In order to help minimize exposure and contacts, the courts in Oconee County and the Western Judicial Circuit will scale back court-related operations through April 13.

Effective Monday, March 16:

Superior Court

• Juries and jury trials are cancelled.

• Grand Jury is cancelled.

• All matters not involving incarcerated individuals will be rescheduled or continued.

• Release hearings for incarcerated individuals will be expedited.

• Parties may request that non-essential matters be conducted via video or teleconferencing.

• Criminal court search warrants, arrest warrants, initial appearances, and bond reviews will continue as needed.

• Domestic abuse temporary protective orders and restraining orders will continue as needed.

• To contact the Superior Court, call 706-769-3940.

Clerk of Court for Superior, Magistrate & Juvenile Courts

• Offices will remain open, but staffing may be limited. Online service is available for a number of items.

• Real estate deeds, liens or plats may be filed online through https://efile.gsccca.org.

• Real estate records may be viewed and printed at www.gsccca.org.

• Civil cases can be e-filed through PeachCourt at https://PeachCourt.com.

• To contact the Clerk of Court for Superior, Magistrate and Juvenile Court, call 706-769-3940.

Magistrate Court

• Hearings involving incarcerated individuals at the Oconee County Jail will be held as scheduled or rescheduled within a short time.

• All other criminal hearing and all civil hearing will be rescheduled to a hearing date after April 13.

• Judges will continue to issue search warrants, arrest warrants, and hold hearings for release of inmates on bail as soon as possible.

• To contact the Magistrate Court, call the Clerk at 706-769-3940.

Probate Court

• All hearings and trials except those involving liberty or safety concerns will be postponed for at least the next 30 days.

• Arraignments (Criminal, Traffic and Ordinance) from March 16 - April 13 will be cancelled.

• Bench Trials set for Wednesday, March 25, 2020 are rescheduled to Wednesday, May 13, 2020 at 9:00 a.m.

• Arraignments set for Thursday, March 26, 2020 are rescheduled to Thursday, May 21, 2020 at 9:00 a.m.

• Mental health commitment hearings will continue as needed.

• To contact the Probate Court, call 706-769-3936.

Juvenile Court

• Some dependency hearings are cancelled, but not trials with specific time limits. Contact the court with questions about specific cases.

• Children will not be transported unless specifically ordered.

• No children will be admitted to a Regional Youth Detention Center without judicial approval.

• Delinquency matters may be continued with consent of all parties.

• Appearances for dependency adjudications and dispositions will be waived if consented to by all parties.

• Foster parents, Court Appointed Special Advocates and Guardians Ad Litem may file written reports and be excused from attendance.

• To contact the Juvenile Court, call 706-769-3940. To contact the Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ), call 706-769-5043. To contact Department of Family & Children Services (DFCS), call 706-227-7021

Weddings

• For parties seeking to get married at the Courthouse by a judge, the parties must contact the appropriate court. The number of attendees may be limited or the location moved to accommodate appropriate distance.

The courts will otherwise continue to operate, and all clerk offices will remain open unless county buildings are closed. All emergency and time-sensitive matters will continue, such as requests for temporary protective orders. Parties are encouraged to contact the individual court to check on the status of their cases and to request a rescheduling. Note that many staff may be out to care for family members and children, so please be patient if phone lines are busy. Court and clerk staff will attempt to contact parties and return calls as quickly as possible.

Individuals who are sick or displaying symptoms are encouraged not to come to the Courthouse. Such individuals should contact the court for further guidance.

In the event that the public health emergency continues, the Chief Judge of the Superior Court and/or Chief Justice of the Georgia Supreme Court may issue further directives to restrict, postpone or cancel court activities.

If you are represented by an attorney, contact your attorney for information. If you are represented by the Public Defender’s Office, contact their office at 706-369-6440 or via Facebook @WesternPD.

For additional information please visit the Oconee County website at https://www.oconeecounty.com .

Civic Center Closed through March 31

The Civic Center will be closed to events through March 31. During this time, the facility will undergo deep sanitization efforts.

Welcome Center Closed to Public Until March 30 & Eagle Tavern Tours Suspended Indefinitely

Due to the situation surrounding COVID-19, the Welcome Center doors will be closed to the public until March 30, 2020, and Eagle Tavern tours are suspended indefinitely. If you are in need of immediate assistance, please contact Welcome Center staff via email at welcomecenter@oconee.ga.us or via phone at 706-769-5197.

Visit the Tourism & Visitors Bureau website visitoconee.com to obtain information about Oconee County. For information on travel in Georgia, please visit exploregeorgia.org.

The purpose of these actions is to promote appropriate levels of social isolation to lessen the spread of the virus. Visit Oconee’s top priorities are always the health and safety of staff, visitors, and residents. The Tourism and Visitors Bureau will continue to monitor the changing conditions closely and base decisions on state and local agency recommendations.

March 16 Planning Commission Meeting Cancelled

The March 16 Planning Commission meeting has been cancelled in order to protect the health and safety of the community during the rapidly changing COVID-19 situation.

Presidential Preference Primary Postponed & In-Person Early Voting Suspended

Due to mounting concerns over the Covid-19 Virus and the current State of Emergency, Secretary Raffensperger has moved the Presidential Preference Primary from March 24, 2020, to coincide with the State Primary scheduled for May 19, 2020.

  • All in-person voting ended on Saturday March 14, 2020
  • Every vote already cast, whether by mail or in person, WILL be counted in May for the Presidential Preference Primary along with votes cast in the state primary
  • All Presidential Preference Primary absentee ballots that are received by the March 24th deadline will be accepted as normal
  • All Presidential Preference Primary absentee ballot applications will continue to be accepted and processed

The Oconee County Board of Elections will be updating election information on Monday, March 16th.

Please feel free to call the Elections office with any questions at 706-769-3958, Monday – Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Thank you to all of the Oconee County citizens for your patience and understanding.

Oconee County Library and Bogart Library Closed March 16-29

All Athens Regional Library System branches, including the Oconee County Library and Bogart Library, will be closed to the public Monday, March 16, through Sunday, March 29. For more information, visit http://www.athenslibrary.org/8429-athens-regional-library-system-closing.

Oconee County Parks and Recreation Department – Programs & Indoor Facilities Closed through March 29

The top priority of OCPRD is the health and well-being of our community. Currently, the Oconee County School system, Little League International and Georgia Soccer have suspended all recreational activities.

Therefore, OCPRD will be taking the following appropriate precautionary measures to decrease the public health risk of spreading the coronavirus:

  • Effective 5 pm on Friday, March 13 through Sunday, March 29 all scheduled programs and facility rentals are cancelled
  • Oconee Veterans Park Community Center and the Herman C. Michael Park gymnasiums closed during this timeframe, to include the fitness center and open gym
  • OCPRD will continue to thoroughly clean and sanitize park facilities to help prevent the spread of germs
  • Program cancellations include all OCPRD youth and adult athletics, Oconee County Little League (cancelled until 4/6), Oconee Futbol Club (cancelled through 4/30), Oconee Youth Lacrosse Association, Tennis for Life and Clarke-Oconee Tennis activities. With school closure, the After School Program is also cancelled.
  • Oconee County Park outdoor facilities will remain open for public use.

Please continue to protect yourself and your family members by following the CDC guidelines, https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html to include:

  • Clean your hands often with soap and water, or hand sanitizer
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick
  • Distance yourself from other people
  • Stay home if you are sick
  • Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue or the inside of your elbow, then wash hands
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces daily

OCPRD will continue to respond and adapt as new information is made available. Any park updates will be posted on the OCPRD Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/OconeeCountyParksandRecreation.

Oconee County Senior Center Closed through March 29

Oconee County Senior Center’s highest priority is the health and well-being of both its members and the entire community. Based on concern regarding COVID-19 and the call to action by Governor Kemp, the Oconee County Senior Center will close at 4 p.m. on Friday, March 13, and remain closed through Sunday, March 29. All Senior Center services and activities are cancelled, with the exception of the Meals on Wheels program, which will continue to deliver hot meals to registered participants. During this closure, the Senior Center will undergo deep cleaning to help prevent the spread of any germs.

The Oconee County Senior Center recommends that everyone continue to protect themselves, their family members, and the community by following CDC guidelines, including:

  • Clean your hands often with soap and water, or hand sanitizer
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick
  • Distance yourself from other people
  • Stay home if you are sick
  • Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue or the inside of your elbow, then wash hands
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces daily

For more information on Coronavirus, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html.

For updates on the Oconee County Senior Center, visit www.oconeecounty.com/seniorcenter.