Status of Missoula County operations amid COVID-19

Last updated Nov. 19, 2020

With the recent uptick in COVID-19 cases, some Missoula County offices have delayed plans to reopen further or have returned to working remotely. 

Below are details for public-facing Missoula County departments. While the Missoula County courthouse remains open to the public, in-person services vary by department.

Clerk and Treasurer’s Office, Missoula County Courthouse First Floor, 200 W. Broadway 

  • The office is closed to public entrance. This includes motor vehicle registration, renewals and transfers, property tax payments or changes, and requests for birth certificates and other records. 
  • Customers are encouraged to complete services online at missoulaclerk.us whenever possible.  

Clerk of Court’s Office, Courthouse Second Floor 

  • The office is open to the public from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. with limited staff. 
  • In-person services will be by appointment-only by calling 406-258-4780.  
  • Residents with questions about jury service are encouraged to email clerkofcourt@missoulacounty.us if possible. They can also call 406-258-4780 but should expect longer than usual wait times as the county continues to experience a large volume of calls.  
  • The office requests no more than one person to attend an appointment but will make accommodations for marriage license applicants to appear together. 
  • A maximum of three people will be allowed in the customer service area at a time. 
  • Those with appointments should call 406-258-4780 from outside the clerk’s office while maintaining a 6-foot distance from others. Once admitted they must maintain physical distancing of 6 feet in the customer service area. Tape markings on the floor will indicate 6-foot distancing. 
  • A cloth face covering is required for all customers. Disposable masks available upon request. 
  • Hand sanitizer will be available for customers, and staff will wipe down pens, counters and other items between customers. 
  • Only one person will be allowed in the public search area at a time. Customers should call 406-258-4780 to schedule an appointment. 
  • Marriage applicants may continue to apply for marriage licenses online, without an in-person visit. 
  • Self-represented litigants are encouraged to continue to submit paperwork by email, fax, mail or drop box. The regular fee for email/fax will be waived. 
  • Attorneys in cases not yet available for e-filing are encouraged to continue to submit pleadings by email, fax, mail or drop box. The regular fee for email/fax will be waived. 
  • Email: clerkofcourt@missoulacounty.us 
  • Fax: 406-258-4899 

Commissioners’ Office, 199 W. Pine St. 

  • Commissioners continue to hold their public meetings virtually via Teams. 
  • The public can check the commissioners’ schedule at www.missoulacounty.us for information ahead of each upcoming public meeting. 
  • Staff check email, mail and voicemail each day. 

Community and Planning Services127 E. Main St. 

  • Beginning Wednesday, Nov. 4, the Community and Planning Services office will be closed to visitors, except those dropping off applications and other work-related materials. The front door will be unlocked so documents can be dropped off securely in the lobby area.
  • The reception and information desk staff will be available by phone and email from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday to field questions from the public about zoning, permits, land use, projects or plans and can be reached by phone at 406-258-4642 or email at zoner@missoulacounty.us.  
  • Meetings will be held virtually for the foreseeable future.
  • To make a virtual appointment call 406-258-4657 or visit www.missoulacounty.us/caps for additional information.
  • The department encourages the continued submission of documents and forms electronically when possible. 

County Attorney’s Office, Courthouse Fourth Floor 

  • Majority of employees returned to working remotely and can assist the public by phone, mail or email.  
  • In-person assistance is available by appointment/invitation only for purpose of trials, hearings and prep. 
  • Employees working in the office must practice physical distancing for any in-person meetings, including department meetings, public meetings, meetings with law enforcement, victims, witnesses, other attorneys, etc.  
  • Attorneys, court staff, law enforcement, witnesses, etc., may be allowed in the office if accompanied by an employee, necessary for trial or trial prep, and NOT exhibiting any symptoms.  
  • Anyone in the office must wear a face mask, adhere to strict social distancing guidelines and comply with check stations in place. It is required that employees wash hands/sanitize often.
  • Disposable face masks will be available for those who need one.   

Crime Victim Advocate Program, 317 Woody St. 

  • The office will be closed to walk-in and in-person services Monday, Oct. 26 thru Wednesday, Oct. 28.
  • Paperwork packets are available outside the office in a clear tote.
  • For assistance with protection orders via phone, call the main line at 406-258-3830.
  • If you are experiencing an emergency, please call 9-1-1 or the 24-hour YWCA CRISIS HOTLINE at 800-483-7858.
  • Temporarily, advocates will not physically accompany clients to court appearances but are available via online platform, such as Zoom.
  • For general information, visit www.missoulacounty/cva 

District Court, Courthouse Second and Third Floors 

  • For a detailed list of procedures visit the District Court website. (District Court is a function of the state.)

Elections Center, 140 N. Russell St.  

  • The Elections Center will be open for the extended hours leading up to Election Day:  
    • Saturday, Oct. 24: 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.  
    • Monday-Friday, Oct. 26-30: 8 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. 
    • Saturday, Oct. 31: 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. 
    • Monday, Nov. 2: 7 a.m. 7 p.m. 
    • Tuesday, Nov. 3: 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.   

Historical Museum at Fort Missoula3400 Captain Rawn Way 

  • Due to the uptick in COVID cases, the main museum building will remain closed for general visitation through Thursday, Dec. 31.
  • Tours of the main museum building and galleries are available for small groups by appointment only. Please contact Education Director Kristjana Eyjolfsson at 406-258-3473.
  • Museum grounds are open, and the public is welcome.
  • Museum outbuildings will be closed for the winter beginning Monday, Nov. 2, and will re-open for Forestry Day on Saturday, April 24, 2021.   
  • The museum is no longer accepting book donations.  
  • Volunteer activities are currently on hold. 
  • The museum plans to resume all normal activities when the state enters Phase Three.  

Justice Court, Courthouse, First Floor 

  • All court hearings other than trials, order of protection hearings, and landlord/tenant possession hearings will be held by conference call or video. Parties should not appear in court unless a judge or clerk instructs them to. 
  • Anyone who receives a ticket should contact the clerk of court at 406-258-3470 to schedule an initial appearance. 
  • Anyone physically appearing in a courtroom must use cloth face coverings. The court will provide disposable masks for those unable to provide their own.  
  • The court is conducting both criminal and civil jury trials and requires advanced notice if a jury trial is going to be continued or vacated. Extra jury confirmation hearings will be held to ensure this.
  • The court is officiating weddings again under limited circumstances.  
  • Upon request, initial appearances, trials and other proceedings will be available to the public via Zoom.  
  • Justice Court offices are open to the public for fine payments and civil filings. 
  • Justice Court helpful links
  • Additional COVID-19 procedures

Missoula County Fairgrounds, 1101 South Ave. W. 

Missoula Public Library, 455 E. Main St.  

  • Curbside lending, online/virtual programming and reference services are available at the new building at 455 E. Main St.  
  • The opening date for the new building is to be determined.

Public Works, 6089 Training Drive 

  • Missoula County Public Works will transition to online-only permitting beginning Wednesday, Nov. 4, and the building will be closed to public access. Public Works will operate permitting in this fashion until the risk of COVID-19 is significantly reduced or eliminated. Permitting services are available online at www.missoulacounty.build. The public is encouraged to use the online services or call staff at 406-258-3701. Pick-up and drop-off boxes are available for coordinated plan drop-off and pick-up and are located outside the front door of the main office at 6089 Training Drive in Missoula.
  • Public Works inspections will continue in person, per usual operations, but may be re-evaluated to determine if changes are necessary to reduce risk. Inspectors will wear face coverings during inspections unless they have requested an accommodation as allowed under the state and local orders. For additional protection of both inspectors and homeowners, homeowners present during inspections will be asked to wear face coverings and maintain a 6-foot distance for the duration of the inspection. To limit the inspector’s time inside the home, discussions between the inspector and the homeowner will be held outside or via phone. On-site customers and contractors are strongly encouraged to wear appropriate personal protective equipment during the inspection and follow social distancing guidelines. To schedule an inspection, contact staff at 406-258-3701.
  • The Seeley Lake office will remain open to the public by appointment only. To make an appointment, contact the Seeley Lake inspector by calling 406-396-8148.
  • The Surveyors Office is closed to the public but is providing service online. Contact Steve Niday with any questions at sniday@missoulacounty.us.
  • Road crew employees are considered a part of the essential workforce because they take care of public infrastructure, so they will work their regular seasonal hours of Monday through Thursday. Road and engineering office staff will work remotely and will reply to all emails and voicemails as they are able. Please call 406-258-4753 or email the general email box at mcpw@missoulacounty.us.
  • Sewer and water services will continue with services as normal, but staff ask that people wear face coverings and maintain a 6-foot distance when in the presence of personnel performing these essential services.

Sheriff’s Office, Courthouse Second Floor

  • Residents are asked to call and make an appointment to speak with a deputy or detective regarding a non-emergent matter, to speak to administrative staff or about all concealed weapon permit applications. Appointments can be made by calling 406-258-4810. 
  • Missoula County Sheriff’s Office has resumed fingerprint services. Fingerprinting will be offered by appointment on Wednesday and Thursday of each week from 1 to 4 p.m. Appointments can be made by calling 406-258-4810. Individuals with an appointment will be required to check their temperature, ensuring a temperature reading below 100.4, prior to completing the fingerprint process. Masks will be required. Hand washing and hand sanitizer will be provided upon completion of the process.  
  • For Civil Process, please call 406-258-4802. 
  • During an emergency, always dial 9-1-1. 

Superintendent of Schools, 410 W. Spruce St.

  • Office is open daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., though office hours may vary due to limited staffing.
  • Public is encouraged to make appointments, use the drop box or mail correspondence.
  • Masks are required to enter the building.
  • There is a limit of one person at a time due to the small size of the reception area.  

Weed District and Extension Office, 2825 Santa Fe Court 

  • Office is open daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., though office hours may vary due to limited staffing.
  • There is a limit of two people at a time due to the small reception area and members or the public are strongly encouraged to call 406-258-4200 to make an appointment with the staff member they wish to visit.
  • Masks are required to enter the building.
  • Call with questions regarding programs or events.

Vaccine Website, Call Center Launch as County Starts Transition to Phase 1b

As COVID-19 vaccine providers in Missoula County start the transition to vaccinating individuals in Phase 1b, residents can now find up-to-date information about vaccine options by visiting https://covid19.missoula.co/ online or calling 258-INFO if they do not have Internet access.

The Missoula County Vaccine Information page on the website contains information on vaccine providers in the county, including how, when and where each provider is administering the vaccine. Residents with regular healthcare providers should look for that provider’s information on the website. People who do not have regular providers should watch the page for announcements of public clinics, which will begin as more supply of vaccine becomes available. Public clinics will be held soon at the former Lucky’s Market on the south side of Southgate Mall and at the University of Montana. Watch the vaccine information website at https://covid19.missoula.co/ for details on dates and how to register in the next few days.

While vaccine supply will ultimately determine the pace, providers will generally move into Phase 1b by the end of the month. Phase 1b includes residents 70 and older; American Indians and people of color 16 and older, as they may be at elevated risk for COVID-19; and those ages 16-69 with qualifying health conditions. Missoula County residents who meet the 1a criteria but who did not get vaccinated can still be vaccinated as providers move through the phases.  

The state allocation of vaccine to each provider will inform each provider’s strategies in scheduling appointments for vaccine administration. Different providers are managing their patients differently and at different speeds as vaccine supply changes for each provider. As they move through the phases, many providers are contacting their eligible patients who meet the current Phase 1b criteria by mail, telephone, e-mail and established website communication platforms. Residents should not call local hospitals or their providers to receive vaccine doses until they have been instructed to by their healthcare provider. Residents should watch the website to track vaccine availability across Missoula County and continue to monitor where the “line” is and where their places are in it.

The website will also link to a map of vaccine providers and a dashboard that tracks vaccination progress in the county.

For those without Internet access, staff at the vaccine call center can assist with information and scheduling for providers with online registration. Residents will be able to access this call center by calling 406-258-INFO and following the prompts. For medical (non-logistical) questions about the vaccine, visit the Missoula City-County Health Department’s Frequently Asked COVID-19 Vaccine Questions page at https://www.missoulainfo.com/vaccine-faq. This information is also available through the call center for those without Internet access.

Residents can help providers by refraining from calling them directly and using the website instead.

Missoula County has 26 vaccine providers registered to administer the COVID-19 vaccine; however, the limiting factor is the availability of vaccine. Missoula City-County Health Department staff recently learned from state health administrators that Missoula County can expect to receive approximately 1,500 first doses each week for the foreseeable future, based on the state’s entire allocation of approximately 13,000 first doses. Missoula County will likely have nearly 40,000 people expecting to receive the vaccine in Phase 1b. The vaccine scarcity is not unique to Missoula County or to Montana; the shortage is nationwide. Health department leaders continue to advocate for more doses at every opportunity. While we wait, they encourage people to continue to take the standard precautions against transmission of the virus: masking, social distancing, washing hands and keeping their social circles small.

The Missoula County COVID-19 Vaccine Coordination Team is managed by the Western Montana All Hazard Incident Management Team under the Office of Emergency Management. The team formed recently at the request of the Missoula County commissioners and the mayor of Missoula to coordinate the distribution of vaccine in Missoula County. The team aims to reduce public anxiety by providing timely, accurate information and to identify and address barriers to administering the vaccine to all who wish to receive it.

“A primary goal of the vaccination coordination team is to inform the public about vaccine availability in Missoula County and to help direct those eligible residents to a vaccination provider,” said Adriane Beck, director of the Missoula County Office of Emergency Management. “Vaccine supply is extremely limited right now, and not every provider will be receiving vaccine. We thank the public for their engagement and encourage people to monitor the website for changing information as supply increases.”

Missoula County, City launch COVID-19 Vaccination Coordination Team

Missoula County’s Office of Emergency Management, in partnership with the City of Missoula, will stand up a Type 3 Incident Management Team to coordinate COVID-19 vaccine administration throughout the county.

OEM Director Adriane Beck will oversee the efforts of the Missoula County Vaccination Coordination Team, which will open lines of coordination among all vaccine providers to ensure accurate and timely information and data exchange, coordinated vaccine efforts, sharing of resources where appropriate, and planning for each of the phases of vaccination in Missoula County. This team will remain in place until COVID-19 vaccine is widely available in Missoula County to any resident 16 or older who wants to get vaccinated.

Employing the incident management structure, more typically used in Missoula County to respond to natural disasters like wildfires and flooding, will provide the command and management infrastructure to coordinate logistical, fiscal, planning, operational, safety and other aspects of a large-scale vaccination effort among the many entities that will administer the vaccine as we move into Phase 1B.

“As the county enters Phase 1B and beyond, the team will develop strategies for identifying and connecting eligible citizens with a vaccine provider for administration as well as coordinate efforts around mass vaccination events across Missoula County,” Beck said.

The IMT will help centralize efforts among local hospitals and other healthcare providers, the University of Montana, the health department, pharmacies and other vaccine providers.

“We ask for the public’s patience as we develop the strategies necessary to ensure all those Missoula County residents who meet the phase 1B criteria can be connected to a vaccine provider in the quickest, most efficient manner possible,” Beck said. “We also ask for our citizens to be active participants in this process, pay attention to prioritization criteria, be informed about where you personally fall into the categorization and be ready to receive the vaccine when it is time. Much like boarding an airplane, the process goes much quicker when those waiting to board are ready to get in line when their section is called.”

Once these strategies are finalized, communicating up-to-date, accurate information about them to the public will be crucial. The Missoula City-County Joint Information Center, which consists of the multiple government agencies and community organizations responding to COVID-19, will help ensure timely information is widely distributed through the news media, social media, online at covid19.missoula.co and other channels.

Missoula County Awards $46,000 in Grants to Community Centers and Parks

Residents throughout Missoula County will soon enjoy additional community center and outdoor recreation opportunities thanks to $46,000 in matching grants offered by Missoula County’s Parks, Trails and Open Lands Program

Grant funding requests represent the importance of community activities and the priority of shared resources throughout Missoula County. The Seeley Lake Lions Club, stewards of Missoula County’s Clearwater Park that has amenities including a skating pond, walking path and a picnic pavilion, will receive $16,988 to put in a playground, new benches, picnic tables, plantings and other improvements. 

The Potomac-Greenough Community Center will receive $10,365 to purchase a pre-K play structure for their playground. The remainder of the funds will be used for padding in the Potomac Greenough Community center gym, which is the primary recreation complex for the community.  

In Lolo, Travelers’ Rest State Park will receive $8,500 to construct an accessible spur trail, which will link the Bitterroot Trail to the park grounds and will include permanent art installations along the trail.  

Five other grants, which range from $1,300 to $2,700, will help fund maintenance projects to improve parks, trails and recreation areas through the Parks and Trails Matching Grants Program. They will help partner organizations fund the following projects in 2021:   

  • $1,369 to remove barbed-wire fencing and install new perimeter fencing at the Nine Mile Community Center (Nine Mile Community Center). 
  • $1,814 to help replace the roof on the picnic pavilion at the West Riverside Community Park (Friends of Two Rivers). 
  • $1,833 to help remove the volleyball court area and replace it with turf at Kelsey Park in Miller Creek (Upper Linda Vista HOA).  
  • $2,500 for site improvements, memorial plaques, a sheltered kiosk and a protective display at the Seeley Lake Veterans Memorial (Veterans and Families of Seeley Lake). 
  • $2,700 to expand and enhance the Seeley Lake Community Skating Rink by purchasing lights, lumber and a fire hose (Seeley Lake ROCKS).  

“While our grant partners have certainly felt impacts from COVID-19, we are encouraged by the large amount of applications received this year,” Parks and Trails Coordinator John Stegmaier said. “All signs point to communities across the county recognizing the importance of their recreation facilities and a willingness to spearhead improvement projects.”  

The Parks and Trails Matching Grant Program leverages partnerships with local nonprofits and community groups to maintain county parks and other public recreation areas. In these partnerships, the Parks, Trails and Open Lands Program provides planning assistance and funding, while the partner organization matches those funds through a combination of project expenses, in-kind donations and volunteer service hours.  

Missoula County to Award COVID-19 Job Retention Grants to 27 Local Businesses

Missoula County commissioners on Tuesday approved distribution of $624,738 from the COVID-19 Small Business Job Retention Fund to 27 local businesses impacted by the pandemic to help them retain jobs for low- to moderate-income employees.  

Of the grants awarded, 58% went to businesses in the food and drink industry, for a total distribution of $365,000. Twelve percent went to retail businesses, 10% to professional services, 10% to preschool/childcare, 6% to transportation and the remaining 4% to businesses in the lodging industry.  

The 27 recipients experienced an average 45% decline in revenue since the beginning of the pandemic and had to lay off 158 employees. Without the grant funding, it is projected there would be another 166 layoffs in the first three months of 2021. 

“Demand for the funds was overwhelming,” said Melissa Gordon, program manager for Grants and Community Programs. “While the county isn’t able to provide assistance to every business in need, I am hopeful the program will provide the support necessary for grant recipients to retain employment opportunities and stay afloat until the new federal assistance becomes available.”   

In total, the county received 126 applications requesting $2.875 million in funding. The application portal opened at 9 a.m. Dec. 10, and it only took a few hours for the amount of funding requested to exceed the amount available. Applications were considered on a first-come, first-served basis. 

The grants are supported through the Community Development Block Grant Economic Development Revolving Loan Fund, which are federal Department of Housing and Urban Development funds intended to stimulate economic development by providing loans and/or grants to create or retain jobs for low- and moderate-income people. Low- to moderate-income is defined as individuals or families whose household income is up to 80% of the median income for the area when adjusted for family size.  

With the sunsetting of current state and federal COVID-19 assistance programs and the slow winter season just around the corner, commissioners allocated a portion of the available CDBG funds to provide working capital grants to help retain jobs and reduce the significant fiscal impact COVID-19 has had on small businesses and the Missoula workforce. 

Public Q & A on Temporary Safe Outdoor Space set for Dec. 16

The Temporary Safe Outdoor Space is located on a parcel of privately owned land north of Highway 93 between Buckhouse Bridge and Blue Mountain Road. The private property is leased to Hope Rescue Mission for $1. 

The Missoula City-County Joint Information Center for COVID-19 will hold a public question-and-answer session on the Temporary Safe Outdoor Space, a project of United Way of Missoula County and Hope Rescue Mission, on Wednesday, Dec. 16, from noon to 1 p.m. via Zoom.

The forum will feature a brief overview of the project and then will be open for the general public and news reporters to ask questions.

Missoula’s Temporary Safe Outdoor Space is a safe, healthy, secure area on private land, staffed 24/7, that will house 40 unsheltered people during the COVID-19 pandemic. It is being offered during our public health emergency because no local providers of food, shelter or services are able to operate at full capacity. A large number of people are living outdoors in unsafe situations without sanitary facilities.

The Q & A will feature Susan Hay Patrick, CEO of United Way of Missoula County; Eric Legvold, director of impact at United Way; Jim Hicks, executive director of Hope Rescue Mission; and April Seat, the Mission’s Director of Outreach. Others on hand to answer questions will be Adriane Beck, director of the Office of Emergency Management; Chet Crowser, Chief Planning Officer for Missoula County; and Anne Hughes, Missoula County Chief Operating Officer.

The costs to set up the temporary space are being reimbursed through federal CARES Act money, so no local taxpayer dollars are involved. United Way and Hope Rescue Mission are seeking additional funding to sustain the site through the winter. United Way and Mission leaders held a press conference about the plans on Nov. 20, but misinformation persists in the community. The Joint Information Center is sponsoring this forum to foster clear public information.

The Missoula City-County Joint Information Center for COVID-19 (JIC) is responsible for COVID-19-related public information that is not specifically illness-related. It is part of the response to the pandemic led by the Office of Emergency Management, which serves all of Missoula County. The communications staff of the City and County, Allison Franz at Missoula County and Ginny Merriam at the City, lead the unit.

For more information about the Temporary Safe Outdoor Space, visit the online FAQ.

Please click the link below to join the Zoom webinar:

https://ci-missoula-mt.zoom.us/j/84045466167?pwd=YWtsRHBoRCsrT1lXQyt0ZTZ3Z1FHQT09
Passcode: 117479

Or iPhone one-tap : US: +12532158782,,84045466167# or +12133388477,,84045466167#

Or Telephone: Dial (for higher quality, dial a number based on your current location):
US: +1 253 215 8782 or +1 213 338 8477 or +1 267 831 0333

Webinar ID: 840 4546 6167
International numbers available: https://ci-missoula-mt.zoom.us/u/kcTD9olSUz

For more information about the Temporary Safe Outdoor Space, visit this Q & A online: https://www.missoulacounty.us/government/administration/commissioners-office/temporary-safe-outdoor-spaceHere are the Zoom instructions for the meeting:You are invited to a Zoom webinar.When: Dec 16, 2020 12:00 PM Mountain Time (US and Canada)Topic: Public Q & A on Temporary Safe Outdoor SpacePlease click the link below to join the webinar:https://ci-missoula-mt.zoom.us/j/84045466167?pwd=YWtsRHBoRCsrT1lXQyt0ZTZ3Z1FHQT09Passcode: 117479 Or iPhone one-tap : US: +12532158782,,84045466167# or +12133388477,,84045466167# Or Telephone: Dial(for higher quality, dial a number based on your current location): US: +1 253 215 8782 or +1 213 338 8477 or +1 267 831 0333 Webinar ID: 840 4546 6167 International numbers available: https://ci-missoula-mt.zoom.us/u/kcTD9olSUz