SCIOTO — In its first meeting closed to the media inperson attendance due to rising coronavirus numbers, the Scioto County Commissioners held its regularly scheduled Thursday meeting.
Moved to once-a-week sessions, the Commissioners reviewed and passed a lengthy agenda of 23 items which focused primarily on allotments of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act. The Commissioners approved $2.1 million of the county’s $2.7 million in CARES funding spread out over five programs.
With small businesses in high need of assistance, Commissioner Bryan Davis said it was necessary to expand the county’s relief program to more companies.
Originally businesses could apply up to a $10,000 grant through the $250,000 program announced Tuesday, Sept. 29. Now, after hearing stories describing the severity of their struggles, the Commissioners approved an additional $500,000 and changed the parameters to account for larger, small businesses.
“This is their opportunity to survive,” said Davis, adding that the county’s 8.2% unemployment rate was improving and leading the area, but still very high.
Half of the $500,000 will apply to businesses with less than 25 employees, where 25 $10,000 grants has been aside. Businesses up to 40 employees with $5 million in revenue can now apply for larger grants, but there are less availabilities. These businesses can apply up to a $25,000 grant, where only 10 such grants exist.
South Central Ohio Educational Service Center in New Boston reached out to 11 high schools in the area to assess their technology needs. 1,200 Chromebooks will be provided to these schools, a decision Davis said was essential for students to be properly equipped to participate in virtual learning programs.
While the Chromebook is a more expensive model than the originally allotted $300 per computer amount, the purchase went forward to ensure the county would use CARES Act funding before the Dec. 31 deadline.
“This will be a huge win for our youth,” said Davis, where $500,000 is being used to purchase the models. “Personally, I feel strongly that we should do this for our young people because of Covid.”
On Wednesday, 31 new coronavirus cases were reported by the Scioto County and Portsmouth City Health Departments, bringing the total case number to 856. These rapid increases are concerning to Davis, who fears that some schools will revert to solely online learning if this trend were to continue.
Scioto County Children’s Services will receive $35,000 for the use of a coronavirus recovery rapid-response vehicle. Davis said that when SCCS workers enter homes, they are being exposed to many unknown elements including Covid. This vehicle would be equipped with dividers and sanitizers to allow for safe transportation of the workers and children.
$1 million will be used to attach UV barriers on the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems for all county-owned public buildings. The Commissioners will be conducting audits and reviewing bids as to determine what systems need just an attachment or if a replacement is necessary.
Finally, $75,000 will be used to implement an intensive cleaning group for county-owned buildings. Davis said it will be used to hire additional maintenance workers, who have kept busy sanitizing their facilities.
“There’s only so much our small maintenance staff can do,” said Davis, where the staff is responsible for such buildings as the courthouse, Scioto County Job and Family Services, Access Scioto County and more.
The Commissioners will reconvene Thursday, Oct. 29. The meeting will be closed to inperson attendance but can be viewed live on their Facebook page.
Reach Patrick Keck (740)-353-3501 ext. 1931, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @pkeckreporter.
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