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Brown County Browser: Human Services continuing to operate during COVID-19

Although our county offices are closed to the public during the Governor’s Order to Shelter at Home, we continue to be available to those in need. Applications for financial assistance programs including food support, cash assistance and medical assistance are available for outside pick-up during our typical office hours of 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. by our Garden Street entrance (under the canopy). You can also apply on line at our county website. Completed applications and verifications may be dropped off at the drop box in our parking lot or emailed to financial.unit@co.brown.mn.us

All of our income maintenance workers, including our child care assistance workers, are processing applications, either working remotely or at our office. Our front desk is busy taking and transferring phone calls to the appropriate worker. Some waivers have been put in place by the Commissioner of Human Services via a Governor’s executive order to modify requirements and make the application process easier.

Our child support unit is still manning the phones and processing cases. Any court activity regarding child support matters are temporarily suspended.

Social Services remains committed to providing the essential services of adult and child protection during this time. Any mandated reports for child protection should still be called into our office (507-354-8246 or toll free at 1-800-450-8246) and the Minnesota Adult Abuse Reporting Center (MAARC) is still operating 24/7 at the toll free number 1-844-880-1574 for reports of concern for vulnerable adults. Other social services including case management, MnChoice assessments and service requests continue to be provided. DHS waivers have allowed the use of phone and video chats to conduct “business as usual” whenever possible to reduce the risk of spreading COVID 19 with face to face visits. Please do not hesitate to call our office if you are struggling with mental health issues during this time, are looking for resources or need assistance in another area.

Heartland Express, the county public transit program, is also operated under Human Services. We are dedicated to providing ongoing transportation to allow individuals to access essential services including rides to work, to the grocery store, pharmacy, food shelf etc. We ask individuals who are not feeling well to cancel their ride and consider asking someone else to pick up supplies for them. Through June1st, unless extended by our County Board, all fares have been suspended to eliminate any barriers to those needing a ride. Please call Heartland by 3 p.m. the day before you need a ride at 507-359-2717.

Planning for safe voting

By Jean Prochniak

Brown County Auditor/Treasurer

In light of the coronavirus pandemic, Brown County Election Administrators are gearing up for the 2020 election cycle with a firm resolve to protect the voters, election judges and staff. It is our goal to ensure that all voters are guaranteed their right to cast a ballot.

At this time, the county is encouraging mail ballot voting for all eligible precincts. Several townships have accepted this option for the 2020 election cycle. Notices will be mailed to all affected registered voters in those precincts. If you do not receive a notification you may not be registered to vote. Please contact our office at 233-6614 to have your registration verified.

We are also looking at ways to address the largest group of voters that reside in our three largest cities. At this time, we are planning on including in utility bill mailings an absentee ballot application along with a letter outlining the process of obtaining a ballot through the mail. We are discouraging voters from coming to our counters to obtain an application or to vote. Social distancing within the Courthouse and at the precincts will be difficult and wait times could be excessive. Please contact our office or go online at mnvotes.org to complete the absentee application. Ballots can be obtained for both the primary and the general election with one application.

We are anticipating a large voter turnout in Brown County and anything we can do to reduce the number of people congregating the better it is for all of the county residents. This is just one small way we can join together to keep people safe!

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