More COVID-19 funds available soon

A second round of COVID-19 money available in Allen County will cover a wide range of items like personal protection equipment and internet connectivity.

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August 19, 2020 - 10:02 AM

County Clerk Sherrie Riebel looks over the county’s proposed budget for 2021 with commissioner Bruce Symes. Photo by Trevor Hoag / Iola Register

Thrive Allen County CEO Lisse Regher said that a second round of CARES Act/SPARK funding would soon be made available across the state through the Kansas Department of Commerce.

As opposed to the first round where businesses and nonprofits applied for COVID-19 relief through the county, in the second round entities must apply themselves. However, Regehr noted that the application process was not a difficult one, and said Thrive would be happy to assist local entities with their applications.

The relief funds cover a wide range of possible items such as personal protective equipment (PPE), internet connectivity and more.

Moreover, unlike the previous round of CARES/SPARK funding, the number of disqualifying factors are fewer. For example, a business can still apply during round two as long as they haven’t received more than $350,000 in assistance, regardless of source (such as EIDL and PPP).

Southwind Extension agent Carla Nemecek, right, and 4-H’er Carly Dreher ask Allen County commissioners Tuesday to use the courthouse basement room for 4-H activities.Photo by Trevor Hoag / Iola Register

That said, an applying entity must show that it has been severely affected financially, with a gross revenue of 25% less than it was during the previous year, or be able to otherwise justify how it needs additional funds to go forward.

Interested businesses, nonprofits and other entities should act quickly, as funds will be dispersed quickly and deadlines are tight.

The grant portal opens today at noon.

Learn more at: kansascommerce.gov by scrolling down the page and clicking on the “Back to Business” link.

COMMISSIONERS and department heads continue to move closer toward approving the county’s 2021 budget, though details remain.

For example, questions arose regarding funding levels for the Sheriff’s Department and jail, as well as whether (and at what level) county employees would receive raises.

At this stage, it looks as if county employees will receive a 3% pay increase, which is largely based on the estimated cost of living (COLA) increase.

Part of said budget discussions also involves calculating the impact of the county’s $2 million decrease in valuation as well as how the mill levy will be impacted.

Commissioner Bill King said he wanted to keep the mill levy static, whereas commissioner Jerry Daniels hoped to lower it. However, Daniels conceded that the economic situation might continue to worsen such that the county may have no other option but to raise the levy.

House and grounds director Ron Holman said that with newly acquired SPARK funds, the county would soon be purchasing a number of new safety items including touchless toilet flushers, faucets, towel dispensers, soap dispensers, fountains and more.

Holman and commissioners decided they would outfit public-use buildings with the new touchless items first, then move on to non-public ones if enough funds remained.

Extension agent Carla Nemecek and Carly Dreher asked commissioners if they could use the courthouse basement rooms this weekend for 4-H events.

Nemecek said that typically at this time of the year, they’d be traveling to Manhattan for state livestock judging and other related events, but due to COVID-19, proceedings will be streamed online instead.

Commissioners approved the request, with Bruce Symes saying “I think it’s great; we’re happy to accommodate it.”

Public works director Mitch Garner said that asphalt patches for roads were being made, and that after Thursday would start being put in place.

Crews are going to be working on the Elsmore/Savonburg road starting Tuesday, focusing on chip and seal repairs.

Not much ditch work is currently taking place, due to focusing on roads, Garner said, but county workers continue to pick up brush in specific areas.

There was also some discussion regarding how the county might assess fees to companies who damage county roads with heavy truck traffic.

Terry Call asked commissioners if they wanted to purchase extended versus regular warranties for generators at the new ambulance stations at Moran and Humboldt, though they decided that standard warranties would be adequate.

Some final amenities like cabinets and other minor items are being put in place at the new ambulance stations, and both grand opening ceremonies should be on the horizon.

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