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Jury president declares state of emergency

Local governments, organizations adjust for coronavirus
Nancy Bergeron
Monday, March 16, 2020
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Lincoln Parish Police Jury President Joe Henderson on Monday declared a state of emergency in the parish as a result of the coronavirus threat.

The proclamation puts the parish in line for possible FEMA reimbursement for a portion of any money that may be spent to minimize the effects of the virus on the health and welfare of parish residents.

So far, there are no diagnosed coronavirus cases in Lincoln Parish.

Henderson called the move “preemptive and proactive.”

“This will give us additional resources, support and funding to respond to the virus threat,” Henderson said. “When (the virus) comes, we’ll have everything in place.”

Meantime, Ruston Mayor Ronny Walker called for residents to not panic and stop stockpiling supplies.

“I think we still need to stay calm and understand if we follow the protocols of washing our hands and staying out of crowds, the chance of catching (the virus) goes down drastically,” Walker said.

The city has suspended all events at the municipal sports complex and canceled bookings at the civic center of 50 people or more.

Walker said officials are also considering a contingency for which employees can work from home. The administration’s leadership meetings are now being done via conference call.

The Ruston-Lincoln Chamber of Commerce is urging its members to consider flextime as a way for families to handle childcare while schools are closed.

“We are in uncharted waters and may need to come up with alternate ways to continue to do business,” chamber President Judy Copeland wrote in an online letter Monday.

In other coronavirus-related developments:

• Hotels are reporting “significant” cancellations for individuals in addition to group events, the Ruston Lincoln Convention & Visitors Bureau said.

• The 3rd Judicial District Court has postponed jury trials that were to have been held the weeks of March 23 and March 30.

• The Lincoln Parish Library has reduced its hours to 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 1-5 p.m. on Sunday. Computer use has been canceled as well as use of study, meeting rooms and all programming. The library is encouraging use of e-services like Hoopla, Overdrive and Freegal. For help with digital services, call the library at 513-5510. 

• The Lincoln Parish Sheriff’s Office has canceled the firing range practice days for church security teams until further notice.

• The LPSO has also canceled the 2020 Senior Expo scheduled for April 17.