COVID 19 Response: Changes in Services

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This will continue to be updated. Time stamps reflect changes.

Changes in City Services to Reduce COVID-19 Exposure

The City of Helena is committed to providing essential services to the public while also making it a top priority to protect the health and safety of our citizens. The City continues to follow the direction of Lewis & Clark County Health Department, and the State of Montana in relation to the COVID-19 health outbreak. In order to accomplish “social distancing,” City departments with non-essential services and staff are transitioning to working remotely. Department hours may be affected and in-person services may be modified to ensure the health and safety of the public and staff. The delivery of in-person services will be continually reevaluated based on COVID-19 State and County health guidelines.

Please see the following modifications each department is taking:

CITY-COUNTY BUILDING VISITORS - UPDATED 6/2

Starting Monday, June 8 the City of Helena and Lewis & Clark County request staff and visitors to the City-County Building, 316 N. Park Ave., to wear face coverings in all common areas and in all circumstances where social distancing cannot be achieved.

PARKS, RECREATION & OPEN LANDS - UPDATED 5/29

Based on the State of Montana’s “Reopening the Big Sky” phased approach, as well as County and City guidance, the City of Helena Parks Department is providing the following guidelines and information for summer operations in response to COVID-19. Please note that staff are continuing to monitor the evolving COVID-19 situation and changes may be made based on public health needs.  

General information for all Parks Dept. operations: Social distancing must continue; masks will be worn by staff when social distancing is not possible. Meetings will continue to be held online. Advisory boards will not be meeting until the declaration of emergency is lifted by the Mayor or the Commission amends the resolution. 

Parks ​Administrative Office: 

On June 1,  the Parks Department office will open to the public Monday – Friday from 8 a.m. to noon. Social distancing will remain a priority and staff will serve only one patron at a time at the front desk and visitors are asked to wear masks. The public is encouraged to continue to use email and phone correspondence for parks reservations and parks department questions and issues. Contact Jennifer Schade at jschade@helenamt.gov or 406-447-8463.

Urban Parks: 

Phase 2: On June 1, the Parks Dept. will re-open playgrounds with social distancing continuing as a priority. Reference “Outdoor Recreation and Sports” on the Lewis and Clark Public Health COVID-19 web page for additional local guidance:  https://www.lccountymt.gov/health/disease-control/covid-19-main-page.html

Walking Mall Permitting/Food Trucks: 

Phase 1/2: On May 4, the Parks Dept. began permitting food trucks in parks and on the walking mall. Food trucks must follow social distancing and State and local guidelines.  Reference “Food, Beverage, Gaming” on the Lewis and Clark Public Health COVID-19 web page for additional local guidance: https://www.lccountymt.gov/health/disease-control/covid-19-main-page.html

Open Space:

Phase 2: Operations will continue as normal with a priority on encouraging social distancing. Staff will be working with partner organizations and contractors to offer guidance on operations ensuring social distancing, appropriate group size and use of tools. Reference “Outdoor Recreation and Sports” on the Lewis and Clark Public Health COVID-19 web page for additional local guidance: https://www.lccountymt.gov/health/disease-control/covid-19-main-page.html

Civic Center:

Phase 2: On June 1, the Civic Center will open back up to the public, including the box office for ticket sales. Staff will continue to prioritize physical distancing and are working with the Lewis and Clark Public Health Department to establish appropriate capacity for groups in each space.

Please visit www.helenaciviccenter.com

Last Chance Splash Pool:

Phase 2: The pool will open with normal hours on June 22. The waterpark will remain closed and patron capacity will be limited to 50 people through Phase 2 of the Governor’s Reopening Plan.  Morning swim lessons will be offered and registration is open. Evening swim lessons that traditionally take place during recreation swim will not be offered this summer in order to keep occupancy low.  Additional sanitation procedures will be established per State and Lewis and Clark Public Health Guidelines. https://www.lastchancesplash.com/home

Kay’s Kids:

Phase 2: The free summer day camp program, Kay’s Kids, will have a different format this summer as a response to local health concerns.  Camp will not be held in-person this summer.  From June 12 to August 7, free weekly take-home camp kits for children ages 6-11, including passes to some City of Helena activities, will be distributed on Fridays from 11:45 a.m.-1:15 p.m. at Bryant Elementary School, 1520 Livingston Ave. Free weekday lunches for ages 1-18 will continue to be distributed by Sodexo Food Services at various City of Helena parks.  For more information on Kay’s Kids and to register for a take-home kit, please visit Helena Parks and Recreation at www.helenamt.gov/parks-recreation. Kays Kids is sponsored by the Kay McKenna Youth Foundation. Information at www.kayskidsmt.org

Tennis Lessons:

Phase 2: Lessons will be held and staff will sanitize equipment between lessons: Sign-up is here: https://www.helenamt.gov/government/departments/parks/recreation-activities “Outdoor Recreation and Sports” on the Lewis and Clark Public Health COVID-19 web page for additional local guidance:  https://www.lccountymt.gov/health/disease-control/covid-19-main-page.html

Golf Course: 

Phase 1: Operations will continue in a limited capacity. Golf carts ​will be available for rent with sanitization after each use.  The retail shop is open with limits on the number of people in the shop to accomplish social distancing. Tee times are spaced to 9-minute intervals. Individual and group lessons will resume with increased physical distancing measures followed. Reference “Outdoor Recreation and Sports” on the Lewis and Clark Public Health COVID-19 web page for additional local guidance  https://www.lccountymt.gov/health/disease-control/covid-19-main-page.html

Muni’s:

Muni's is open, with limited capacity and social distancing and sanitizing measures in place. The restaurant will continue to follow up-to-date State and local restaurant guidelines for operations. Additional local guidelines for “Food, Beverage, Gaming” are available on the Lewis and Clark Public Health COVID-19 web page: https://www.lccountymt.gov/health/disease-control/covid-19-main-page.html

PARKING ENFORCEMENT - UPDATED 5/27

Starting Monday, June 1 the City will resume full parking enforcement in the downtown area. First hour free parking is still available in several locations, as noted in green on the parking map. The Parking Office, located at 225 S. Cruse St., is open to the public, 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., Monday-Thursday. Questions? Contact Parking staff at 406-447-8419. 

Enforcement was suspended in April and limited to only garages and lots in May, 2020. 

CAPITAL TRANSIT - Updated 5/27

Starting Monday, June 1, the Red and Blue fixed-route and Paratransit buses will operate with a limited capactiy Monday-Friday, 6:30 a.m.-11 a.m. and 1-6 p.m. In the two-hour shutdown midday, the buses will be thoroughly cleaned to help minimize potential exposure to COVID-19. Paratransit reoccurring/subscription ride scheduling will not be available until Phase 3 of the State Recover plan (Date: TBD). The East Valley/East Helena bus route will remain suspended until further notice.

To safeguard the public and staff, patrons of the transit system are asked to adhear to the following safety measures:

  • Face coverings should be worn on all buses. 
  • To maintain social distancing, the buses will run at a limited capacity. 
    • Fixed Route Buses: No more than 4 passengers will be allowed on board at any time.
    • ADA Paratransit Buses: No more than 2 passengers will be allowed onboard at any time.

Questions? Contact Capital Transit staff at 406-447-8080.

HELENA POLICE DEPARTMENT - UPDATED 5/7

In response to the COVID-19 virus, officers will be determining which calls require an officer to respond in person and have direct contact with the complainant. If it is determined that an officer does not need to respond to the scene, an officer will contact the caller and gather the needed information over the phone. Officers will still respond to crimes in progress, accidents, crimes of violence, and others that require an in person response. Officers or dispatch may request a caller meet with the officer outside of the residence.

Effective Monday, May 11, Helena Police Dept. will resume enforcement of the abandoned vehicle ordinance and staff will once again provide walk up service at the records window in the Law and Justice Center.

PUBLIC WORKS - UPDATED 4/29

Beginning Monday, May 4, the City of Helena and Lewis and Clark County will be extending hours of operation at the transfer station and landfill. To safeguard the public and staff, social distancing measures will remain in place and staff will continue to work in shifts to limit social contact. 

Operations at both facilities will continue as follows:

City of Helena Transfer Station

  • New hours of operation: Monday-Saturday, 7 a.m.-5 p.m. Closed on Sundays.
    The Transfer Station Admin. Office will remain closed until further notice. Please call 406-447-8086 with any account payment or residential permit questions.
  • As a continuation of the current social distancing measures, tipping floor attendants will not help customers unload any type of material.
  • Route collection and recycling will continue six days per week, Monday-Saturday.
  • For Transfer Station questions, please call 406-447-8086 or visit https://www.helenamt.gov/government/departments/public-works/solid-waste

Lewis and Clark County Landfill

Public Works - Engineering

City Engineers are working remotely to maintain social distancing.. The following individuals can assist with Public Works engineering projects:

UTILITY CUSTOMER SERVICE - UPDATED 4/27

     In-person services for payment or licensing is closed until further notice. 

    • Utility payments (water bills) will continue to be accepted and processed from the drop box locations, via telephone and online.
    • Phone payments may be made from 8 a.m.-4:30  p.m. Please call (406) 447-8450. 
    • For online payments, visit HelenaMT.gov/services 
    • Drop box locations:
      •  City County Building (at the end of the Utility Customer Services Division counter)
      • Van's Thriftway (on the wall outside the West side entrance, above the mailbox)
      • Across from the Base Camp on Broadway (Located with the mailboxes, FedEx boxes, etc.)
      • Albertons on North Montana Ave. (outside on the wall by the mailbox)
    •  The City will continue to work with patrons experiencing trouble paying water bills. Individual water meters will continue to record water usage and utility bills will continue to be generated and delivered to our customers. However, at this time, water will not be shut off for lack of payment.

    For questions regarding water billing, please call (406) 447-8450.

    MUNICIPAL COURT - UPDATED 4/24

    Effective Monday, Aprtil 27:

    The City of Helena Municipal Court will remain open and will continue to function in an orderly manner, however residents may experience delays and decreased services. 

    • Municipal Court will no longer accept walk-ins for in-person filings and payment of fines; however, Municipal Court staff members are still working.

    • Filings: The five-day hard copy rule is waived until May 1, 2020. Filings can be emailed to HelenaMunicipalCourt@helenamt.gov or mailed to 228 Broadway, Rm 105, Helena MT 59601

    • Payments: No walk-in payments will be accepted through May 15, 2020. 

      • Option 1.  Pay through the online Cite-Pay system: https://www.citepayusa.com/payments/welcome.do?state=MT 

      • Option 2.  Call in payment, (406) 447-8466 ext 1. 

      • Option 3.  Mail in check or money order, Attn: Helena Municipal Court - 228 Broadway, Rm 105, Helena, MT 59601

      • Option 3.  Call the court to extend your payment date, (406) 447-8466 ext 1.

    • Open Court: 10:00 AM initial appearances will resume on April 27, 2020. Please observe social distancing and follow the instructions on the signs. Only the Defendant will be allowed in the courtroom unless the Defendant is a minor. No family or friends will be allowed to accompany you into the courtroom.

    • Scheduled Hearings: Omnibus hearings for April 29, 2020 will be held at 11:00 AM via a Zoom Meeting if you are represented by an attorney.  If you are not represented by an attorney, your omnibus hearing will be held in person at 1:00 PM, observing social distancing practices.   All other hearings (plea changes, judge trials, etc) will take place as scheduled starting Monday, April 27, 2020.  Only the Defendant will be allowed in the courtroom unless the Defendant is a minor. No family or friends will be allowed to accompany you into the courtroom.

    • Temporary Orders of Protection: The court is open to receive orders; you must call and notify the Court and staff will give further instruction, (406)-447-8466 ext 1. Served orders must appear.  Date and time stated on court papers.  

    • Forms:  Petition for Temporary Orders of Protection can be found on the City website.  Please call or email the court to request a form. 
      Phone: (406) 447-8466 ext 1 
      Email:  HelenaMunicipalCourt@helenamt.gov

    • Telephone: The court will be answering phone calls from 9:00 am to 12:00 pm and 1:00 to 4:00 pm Monday through Friday. 

    • Jail Arraignments: Held via video conference Monday – Friday, at 8:00 am.  The court will not be allowing walk-in viewing during this time. New hours are in place until May 15, 2020.

    COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT

    Building Division

    All business will be handled electronically or by phone for the health and safety of our staff and the public. The City Building Division Office will be closed to the public beginning at 12:00 p.m. March 19th until further notice.

    • All correspondence is being handled electronically. Please email plans, applications, or documents to one of the contacts noted below.
    • Payments may only be made by credit card or debit card over the phone. Checks and cash will not be accepted.
    • The process for requesting inspection will remain the same. General Contractor shall call the Building Division to schedule inspections. City Inspectors will continue to do inspections as timely as possible.
    • Review of plans will continue as timely as possible.
    • If you have any questions, feel free to call 447-8438 or 447-8437. Email documents to tdupree@helenamt.gov and rrowsey@helenamt.gov

    Planning Division

    The City Planning Division is working remotely with limited hours in the  office. Most business will be conducted electronically, but there is availability for appointments to drop-off plats and applications.

    Please visit our website for more information regarding new remote processes and updates from the Department. For general questions, please call (406) 447-8490 and leave a detailed voicemail or e-mail citycommunitydevelopment@helenamt.gov. You may also contact the assigned Planner via work phone or work email for ongoing projects

    For questions regarding variances, conditional use permits or zoning, please contact:

    • Zoning Officer at htaylor@helenamt.gov or call 406-447-8448
    • For questions regarding Minor or Major subdivisions and boundary line adjustments, please contact lgengler@helenamt.gov or call 406-447-8459
    • For questions regarding annexation or the Growth Policy, please contact mmcconnell@helenamt.gov or call 406-447-8492
    • For questions  regarding Grants or ADA compliance please contact eray@helenamt.gov or call 406-447-8491
    • For additional information or questions concerning  any of the above please contact shaugen@helenamt.gov or 406-447-8445 or 406-459-4860.

    You can access all our forms, applications and other  planning information at www.helenamt.gov/government/departments/community-development

     

     


    For the latest news or changes in City services, please continue to follow “Community Headlines” at HelenaMT.gov.


     

    Graphic: Public Service Announcement