FOCO animal shelter

FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. — Several government buildings reopened to residents this week and some services resumed that had been suspended by the coronavirus pandemic resumed.  

The Forsyth County Administration Building opened June 1 with new guidelines for visitors. A digital wait list system was implemented for those requiring face-to-face interaction with county staff in various departments, including the Tax Assessor’s office and Planning and Community Development. The system alerts residents through email or text message when they are permitted to enter the building. Appointments can be made at forsythco.com/appointments.

“The new appointment system will allow us to provide in-person services with county staff, while maintaining an appropriate number of people in the various buildings,” Forsyth County Manager Eric Johnson said. “We still highly encourage residents to complete transactions online but understand the need for in-person interactions. This tool enables us to safely allow residents to enter facilities for various transactions as needed.”

The county is still encouraging residents to use online services when available.

The Forsyth County Animal Shelter resumed several services Tuesday, including adoptions.

Director Cindy Iocapella said while the shelter was closed, care was still provided for the county’s stray population, but traditional adoptions were put on hold and replaced by a foster-to-adopt program. At one point, the shelter’s dog population had been reduced to just four animals.

The shelter also provided resources to enable residents to keep their pets amid an economic crash.

“When someone maybe lost their job due to COVID-19, we could provide [pet] food and that sort of thing so people could stay on their feet,” Iocapella said. “We had one person who said it was either feed the kids or feed the dogs, and we were able to provide them with dog food indefinitely.”

Traditional adoptions are still on hold, but virtual adoption appointments can be arranged.

“In essence, it has just kind of changed the way we do things,” Iocapella said. “It’s less about people just looking around and more about matchmaking.”

The shelter is also planning for what impacts the pandemic might have down the road. Iacopella said some shelters in the northern part of the country have seen an influx of surrendered animals from people affected by COVID-19.

“Hopefully we don’t get there, but we want to plan ahead so we know what it looks like if we do get there,” she said. “We want to provide services to residents so they don’t have to worry.”

Certain county parks facilities were also reopened this week, including recreation centers and all playgrounds.

The county’s recreation centers opened with adjusted hours of operation, 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday, with caps on how many are allowed in the building at one time.

The Cumming Aquatic Center reopened May 20 and the Competition Pool returned to normal operating hours June 1. The water park will remain closed until at least June 12 under Gov. Brian Kemp’s May 28 executive order.

The Forsyth County State Court resumed in-person hearings June 1 to begin reducing a backlog of cases brought on by the pandemic. The court has put limits in place on the number of people permitted per day in each courtroom and will hear “serious misdemeanor offenses” and traffic arraignments.

Those given a traffic citation that required an appearance in court should check the status of the citation at the Forsyth County Clerk’s website because it may have been deemed “payable” by the prosecutor.

Residents scheduled for a court appearance for the first two weeks of June may receive a notice of a new court date.

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