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Essential Local Government Services To Continue; Jail Visitations Barred

Inmates at the Hill County Detention Center cannot have visitors for the foreseeable future.

Religious services at the detention center have been canceled, and Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous meetings are on hold.

The decisions were prompted not only by health concerns raised by the novel coronavirus pandemic, but by the strain the new health protocols are putting on the detention staff and the sheriff’s department administration, Sheriff Jamie Ross said in a press release.

The department also has suspended applicant fingerprinting and concealed weapon permit processing.

The sheriff’s department is one of many government offices affected by the coronavirus.

Most local governments on the Hi-Line will be operating as normal, but they are asking the public to help in difficult times.

The Havre-Hill County Library is an exception. After a city department heads’ meeting on Monday morning, it was decided to close the library for two weeks.

However, Head Librarian Rachel Rawn said people with library cards can get audio books online. 

She asked that people not return books to the library during the two weeks it is closed. No fines will be assessed.

Havre City Hall will be open regular hours, but the city is asking people to limit visits to the building to a minimum.

People can mail in their bills, leave them at the drop box at city hall, pay by phone, or pay digitally.

The city’s swimming pool will be closed for at least two weeks.

Hill County Commissioner Diane McLean said most county offices are required by law to remain open.

McLean said Kim Larson, public health director, will be the county’s official spokesperson. Larson did not return phone calls seeking comment.

Ross called the jail situation unfortunate. He said inmates still will be able to communicate with friends and relatives through mail and telephone.

“We understand the importance of interaction for our inmates, their family and friends, but staff and inmate health and safety are our top priorities.”

Once more information on the disease is obtained, the department will look at restarting the services, he said.

Ross also asked sick people not to come to the sheriff’s office, “and please, wash your hands and cover your mouth when you cough and sneeze.”


Write to John Kelleher at

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