UPDATE 3/31/2020: COVID-19 Response, Changes in Office Hours & Services
 
Posted on Tuesday March 17, 2020
 
Benton County response to COVID-19, Updated 3/31/2020 3:00 PM
 

UPDATE
March 31, 2020 - 3:00 PM

Amending Emergency Declaration (Resolution 2020-272)
The Board of Commissioners were presented a resolution amending Resolution 2020-258, Declaration of Emergency in Benton County, at their regular Board meeting on Tuesday, March 31, 2020 at 9 AM to extend the dates of the emergency until April 12, 2020 or until the end of the Governor’s “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order, whichever is later.

The approved  Resolution 2020-272 also grants authority to each separately and independently elected official, as well as the County Administration for departments under the direction of the Commissioners, to approve telecommuting options and/or paid administrative leave or other available leave for employees deemed non-essential, provided that said employees regularly check their office email and provide a telephone number where they can be reached for work-related issues and are available to physically report to work as necessary. 



UPDATE

March 23, 2020 - 4:00 PM

Auditor's Office
Effective Tuesday, March 24, 2020, the Auditor's Office will be reducing the on-site working hours of recording staff to 9 AM - 1 PM, Monday through Friday and will only be taking appointments for urgent matters on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9 AM - 12 PM. Recording staff will continue to be available via email. Vehicle licensing services remain closed and elections staff are all telecommuting. Should you have any questions, please contact their office via email at auditor@co.benton.wa.us.

Clerk's Office
Effective Monday, March 23, 2020 through Friday, April 3, 2020 (unless otherwise extended) the Clerk's Office will be reducing the on-site working hours of their staff and will only be available from 1 PM - 3 PM daily, Monday through Friday. Should you have any questions, please contact their office via email at clerk@co.benton.wa.us.

Treasurer's Office
Effective Tuesday, March 24, 2020, the Treasurer's Office will be reducing the on-site working hours of their staff and will only be available from 9 AM - 1 PM, Monday through Friday and will only be taking appointments for urgent matters on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9 AM - 12 PM. Should you have any questions, please contact their office via email at treasurer@co.benton.wa.us.

Horn Rapids RV Camping Closed
Effective Wednesday, March 24, 2020 until further notice, the RV camping area at Horn Rapids Park will be closed in an effort to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 (novel coronavirus). We encourage our park visitors to enjoy other recreation activities as weather permits, while following the recommended guidelines from the Benton-Franklin Health District, the Washington State Department of Health, the Washington State Governor’s Office, and the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention. The health and safety of our parks staff and visitors is our number one priority. Should you have any questions, please contact the Parks Department via email at parks@co.benton.wa.us.



UPDATE
March 20, 2020 - 9:00 AM

Southeast Communications Center Reminder to the Public: 

Our dispatch team is here to serve our citizens throughout Benton and Franklin Counties. Since the COVID-19 outbreak, they have been inundated with calls and questions regarding the virus. Please note, the local health department will be your primary resource regarding questions you have specific to COVID-19. 

PLEASE DO NOT CALL 911 FOR THE FOLLOWING: 

  • Questions about Coronavirus 
  • Questions about where to get tested 
  • If you are experiencing mild symptoms, such as a low fever and cough 

WHO SHOULD YOU CALL? 

Please only Call 911 if you are experiencing serious symptoms, such as a high fever or difficulty breathing, and need EMS response. Regardless of what you are reporting, please advise if you are experiencing any critical symptoms associated with the Coronavirus (Fever, Shortness of Breath, and Cough). 



UPDATE
March 19, 2020 - 4:45 PM

Superior Court & Juvenile Court
The Benton-Franklin Counties Superior Court has issued Emergency Order #2 RE: Court Operations, effective March 20, 2020. Under this Emergency Order, the Superior Court will conduct no jury trials until after May 1, 2020, and changes have been made to adult criminal cases as well as juvenile cases, domestic matters, and other cases. Adult Drug Court will be conducting business telephonically.

For March 20, 2020 through April 3, 2020, the Superior Court will be open on a limited basis from 1 PM - 3 PM, Monday - Friday at the Benton County Justice Center, the Franklin County Courthouse, and the Juvenile Justice Center. Changes to the court schedule have also been made.

 

Full details of this Emergency Order are available on the Superior Court website (below). Questions regarding the Superior Court can be directed to:

Benton-Franklin Counties Superior Court Administration
509-736-3071
www.benton-franklinsuperiorcourt.com 

 



UPDATE
March 19, 2020 - 4:00 PM

It has come to our attention that there is some confusion regarding office hours for our various departments. During this time, if you are unsure if a department or office is open please contact their office directly before planning a visit, as they may not be accepting visitors or may require an appointment. We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused. Thank you.

 



UPDATE

March 18, 2020 - 1:50 PM

The Benton County Prosecutor’s Office has issued the following statement, as an update to the media release sent yesterday evening (March 17, 2020):

In an abundance of caution and with concern for maintaining the safety and health of the public and our employees, the Benton County Prosecutor’s Office will be limiting operations for a minimum of two weeks as a precautionary measure to help slow the spread of COVID-19 (novel coronavirus). 

Starting Wednesday, March 18, 2020 at 1;00 PM, the Prosecutor’s office will be closed to in-person visits from the public, but staff will remain at work for the remainder of the week. If someone has what they believe to be an emergency need for an in-person visit, please call (509) 735-3591,   or call (509)735-7316 for Child Support matters,  or email prosecuting@co.benton.wa.us to discuss.  

Starting Monday, March 23, 2020, the Prosecutor’s Office will be only be staffed on site by essential employees. Non-essential employees will continue to work from home. 

At this time the Prosecutor’s Office is expected to reopen to the public on Monday, April 6, 2020 at normal business hours unless notification to the contrary is issued.

To get in touch with our office, please contact us at the phone number or email provided below and we will get back to you as soon as we can. Thank you for your understanding as we work to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

Benton County Prosecutor’s Office
(509) 735-3591
(509) 735-7316 (for Child Support)

 


 




FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 17, 2020

Benton County Declares Emergency in Response to COVID-19, Changes in Office Hours & Services

Kennewick, WA
– In an abundance of caution and with concern for maintaining the safety and health of the public and our employees, we will be limiting operations at County offices and departments for a minimum of two weeks as a precautionary measure to help slow the spread of COVID-19 (novel coronavirus). 

Starting Tuesday, March 17, 2020 at 5 PM most County offices will be closed to in-person visits from the public, but staff will remain at work for the remainder of the week. Starting Monday, March 23, 2020 some County offices will be closed except for essential services. Certain other services may continue in a limited capacity, at the discretion of the Elected Official or County Administrator. All County offices will reopen to the public on Monday, April 6, 2020 at normal business hours unless otherwise extended. 

Updates to this information will be provided as they become available.

We are doing everything we can to protect the public and our employees in the midst of this expanding public health crisis. We will continue to provide essential services to residents but we are monitoring the situation closely and urge the public to follow the guidance of the Benton-Franklin Health District, Washington State Department of Health, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Corrections & Jail 
Effective March 14, 2020 the Benton County Jail is temporarily suspending video visitation taking place in the Jail Lobby. All inmates within the Benton County Jail will be authorized four (4) Skype visits per week, free of charge. A web link for instructions to complete Skype visits are available on the Corrections Department website and also on the visitation system website. The visitation schedules listed on the County website remain in place without change. 

In addition, the Corrections Department is no longer allowing volunteers into the facility, in an effort to reduce potential exposure and keep everyone safe. Questions regarding Corrections Department issues can be directed to (509) 783-1451.

Sheriff’s Office
The Benton County Sheriff’s Office will continue to have regular staffing of its law enforcement personnel to ensure the safety of our citizens. To keep the community and staff safe, the Sheriff’s Office will be taking the following measures to limit exposure:

 

  • Phone Reports – If a call for law enforcement service can be handled via telephone and not in person, Deputies will make attempts to do so to limit in-person contact.
  • Fingerprinting Services – Suspension of fingerprinting services until further notice.
  • Lobby Hours – The Sheriff’s Office lobbies in Kennewick and Prosser will remain open for business and hours of operation will not change. However, we ask that you limit these contacts to only those that are imperative to public safety.
  • Records Requests – Please submit records requests electronically to  BCSORecords@co.benton.wa.us 

Prosecuting Attorney
At this time, the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office will continue to have regular office hours and staffing. Any changes will be announced as information is available. Please contact the Prosecutor’s Office with any questions via phone at (509) 735-3591 or via email at prosecuting@co.benton.wa.us.

District Court
The Benton County District Court has issued Administrative Order No. 20-001, in the matter of emergency response to community health, effective March 17, 2020 until April 24, 2020 unless otherwise extended.
 
The Benton County District Court front counters in Kennewick and in Prosser will be closed from March 17, 2020 through April 24, 2020. The District Court office is re-directing the public to communicate with their office via internet, email, and telephone as well as having e-filing set up and running.

Mental Health Court and Veterans Court will be conducting business telephonically.

Questions regarding the Benton County District Court can be directed to:

Benton County District Court Administration 
509-735-8476
District.Court@co.benton.wa.us


Superior Court & Juvenile Court
The Benton-Franklin Counties Superior Court has issued Emergency Order #1 RE: Court Operations, effective March 16, 2020 until further notice. Under this Emergency Order, the Superior Court will conduct no jury trials until April 24, 2020, and changes have been made to adult criminal cases as well as juvenile cases, domestic matters, and other cases. Adult Drug Court will be conducting business telephonically.

Full details of this Emergency Order are available on the Superior Court website (below). Questions regarding the Superior Court can be directed to:

Benton-Franklin Counties Superior Court Administration
509-736-3071
www.benton-franklinsuperiorcourt.com 


Clerk’s Office
The Benton County Clerk’s Office will no longer be accepting passport applications, effective Wednesday, March 18, 2020 until further notice, due to the COVID-19 emergency throughout the State. Their office would like to apologize for this inconvenience and ask for your understanding as they work to continue to provide services during this public health crisis.

For additional information or updates regarding Clerk’s Office services, please contact their office at (509) 735-8388 or via email at Clerk@co.benton.wa.us

Office of Public Defense
The Office of Public Defense front window will be closed to all walk-in traffic effective Wednesday, March 18, 2020 until Monday, April 6, 2020. Their office will continue to be available via phone at (509) 222-3700 or via email at opd@co.benton.wa.us. All Public Defense attorneys will continue to be available to clients and the public remotely and will continue to provide public defense services to all defendants as needed.

Commissioners’ Office & Administration
The Commissioners’ and Administration Offices will be closed to in-person visits from the public starting Wednesday, March 18, 2020 until April 6, 2020 and will be monitoring emails and phone calls during this time. At this time, the Board of Commissioners will continue to hold their regularly scheduled Board meetings, unless otherwise posted.

Human Services
The Benton County Human Services Department will be closed to in-person visits from the public starting Wednesday, March 18, 2020 until Monday, April 6, 2020 unless otherwise extended. Their office will continue to be available via phone at (509) 783-5284 and staff will be monitoring emails.

Treasurer’s Office
The Treasurer’s Office will be closed to in-person visits from the public starting Wednesday, March 18, 2020 until Monday, April 6, 2020. Property tax payment drop boxes will remain open until April 30, 2020 at the Kennewick Annex (5600 W. Canal Drive, Kennewick) and the Prosser Courthouse (620 Market Street, Prosser) for residents to pay their property taxes during this closure. Residents can also pay their property taxes via mail or online at bentoncountytax.com.

For those needing assistance with Real Estate Excise Tax or manufactured home transfers or plats, please contact the Treasurer’s Office at (509) 735-8505 to make an appointment. All other inquiries should be directed to treasurer@co.benton.wa.us

Assessor’s Office
The Assessor’s Office will be closed to in-person visits from the public starting Wednesday, March 18, 2020 until Monday, April 6, 2020 unless otherwise extended. Staffing will be limited during this time but will answer phone calls and emails as available. The Assessor’s Office can be reached via phone at (509) 786-2046 or via email at assessor@co.benton.wa.us

Auditor’s Office
The Auditor’s Office will be closed to in-person visits from the public for all services except the recording department starting Wednesday, March 18, 2020 until Monday, April 6, 2020 unless otherwise extended. Appointments may be made to record documents and/or apply for marriage licenses. Title companies are encouraged to use e-recording. To schedule an appointment with the recording department, contact (509) 736-2727.

For questions regarding licensing, please contact one of the licensing sub-agents. All other inquiries should be directed to (509) 736-2727 or auditor@co.benton.wa.us

Fairgrounds
All events scheduled to take place at the Benton County Fairgrounds have been cancelled until May 1, 2020. All event holders will be fully refunded any fees or invited to reschedule their event at no additional cost within 12 months of their event. 

Questions about Fairgrounds event cancellations and rescheduling can be directed to:

Benton County Fairgrounds Event Coordinator 
509-222-3751
bc.fairgrounds@co.benton.wa.us 


Canine Shelter
The Benton County Canine Shelter Office will be closed to in-person visits from the public starting Wednesday, March 18, 2020 until Monday, April 6, 2020 unless otherwise extended. Canine Shelter staff will continue to monitor calls and provide emergency services but will not be allowing visitors or facilitating adoptions during this time. 

Questions regarding the Canine Shelter can be directed to:

Benton County Canine Shelter 
(509) 460-4923
Canine.Shelter@co.benton.wa.us 

Public Services (Building, Planning, Public Works)
Effective Wednesday, March 18, 2020 the Public Services Building and the Prosser Offices for Building, Planning, and Public Works will be closed to in-person visits from the public until April 6, 2020 unless otherwise extended.

During this time period, these offices will be operating at a limited capacity and will be monitoring emails and phone calls as necessary. Road maintenance operations will continue without interruption. Building inspections will continue in a limited capacity, with certain site restrictions. To schedule an inspection, please contact the Building Inspection line at (509) 736-2763.

Parks
The Rattlesnake Mountain Shooting Facility is closed until further notice. All other Benton County Parks will remain open to the public, including Badger Mountain and Candy Mountain Preserves.

About Benton County
Benton County is located in south-central Washington. The county seat is located in Prosser, and its largest city is Kennewick. Benton County was created on March 8, 1905 and was named after U.S. Senator Thomas Hart Benton. Benton County operates under the plural executive form of government with three commissioners and seven other elected officials. Benton County has offices located in Prosser, Kennewick, and Richland. For more information, please visit our website. 

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Contact: Shyanne Palmus, Communications Coordinator   
Shyanne.Palmus@co.benton.wa.us | 509-222-3760



Memo

Date: March 13, 2020
To: Benton County Residents + News Media
From: Jerrod MacPherson, Benton County Administrator
RE: COVID-19 and Events at County Properties/Buildings

In accordance with Governor Jay Inslee’s Proclamation 20-07, dated March 11, 2020, and in an abundance of caution and in an effort to stem the spread of COVID-19 throughout our community, Benton County will no longer be accepting new applications for events to be held at the Benton County Fairgrounds until June 1, 2020. Please note, the Fairgrounds has limited buildings available until after September 2020 and are currently beginning to book dates for 2021 and later.

All events currently scheduled to be held at the Benton County Fairgrounds between today’s date (March 13, 2020) and June 1, 2020 will be allowed to cancel their events for a full refund or reschedule their events at no additional cost, should they wish. If event holders wish to reschedule, a 12-month window will be provided to reschedule events at no cost.

In addition, per State guidelines, Benton County requires all events held at the Benton County Fairgrounds and all other Benton County facilities until June 1, 2020 to limit attendance to 250 persons or less, to help prevent and limit the transmission and spread of illness.

The Benton-Franklin Health District will continue to be the primary source of information for our region on the status of COVID-19 in our community. Please contact the following agencies for additional information:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
1-800-232-4636

Washington State Department of Health (DOH) 
1-800-525-0127

Benton-Franklin Health District (BFHD)
509-460-4358 (English)
509-460-4359 (Spanish)

Walla Walla County Community Health
509-524-2647

 

 
 
 
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Benton County    620 Market Street    Prosser, Washington 99350
Phone: (509) 786-5710 or (509) 783-1310
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