Clay County Administrator Stephen Larson informed the County Commission about proposed spending of CARES Act dollars at their October 6 meeting. He began his presentation by remarking, “It has been an extremely busy and productive two weeks since we last met, as you can see by the agenda today. I’d like to acknowledge the work of the commissioners and their leadership role in this process. We knew from the beginning it wouldn’t be an easy task. Their leadership in identifying the areas where we can focus (CARES Act) dollars and in talking to their constituents to identify county needs has been extremely important.”
Human Resources Director Darren Brooke joined Larson to report that the Phase 1 Small Business Relief Funding checks should be out by the end of the week. All the required affidavits were received and checks are being processed. A total of $981,000 will be dispersed. Clay County and the City of Moorhead conducted separate application processes for Phase 1 small businesses.
Phase 2 of the Small Business Relief Fund will be a combined effort of Clay County and the City of Moorhead. There will be a total of $719,000 available for the second phase. Funding applications may be found online and will be accepted through October 15. Phase 2 applies to businesses with 20 to 50 full-time employees. Larson said, “We want to make sure that our citizens take advantage of this if they are able to.” Commission Chair Frank Gross urged qualifying businesses to apply for Phase 2 funds, saying, “We can’t help you if don’t let us know about it.” Larson and Brooke assured the commissioners that all Phase 2 applications will be checked to ensure that applicants didn’t receive funding through Phase 1.
They added that the county will soon contact licensed care facilities, with too many employees to qualify for Phases 1 and 2, to inform them about the application process to access grant funds for their facilities.
As the CARES Act Committee continues to meet and as county needs are identified, Stephen Larson and county department heads proposed several funding requests which the commission approved.
· Curt Cannon, County Veterans Service Officer, requested $25,000 to be used for ‘last resort’ assistance for Clay County veterans. He cited the importance of assisting vets with immediate needs that can’t wait to go through a formal funding process, like an emergency car repair to get to work.
· Administrator Larson requested $4000 on behalf of the Clay County Fair Board to make the county fairgrounds Covid-19 compliant. The county already contributes to the fair but these were expenses specific to the pandemic which qualifies them for relief.
· Administrator Larson requested $2006 on behalf of the Clay County Historical and Cultural Society. The county contributes to the group’s support but the pandemic led to reduced admission fees, cancellation of events and less traffic in the gift shop qualifying them for pandemic relief.
· Administrator Larson with the support of Commissioner Kevin Campbell requested $8208 from the Resiliency funding allotment to hire ASP Security to maintain an 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM presence at the east door of the Family Service Center (FSC). Because the building is closed due to the pandemic, the current process requires customers with appointments to use a phone located in a small vestibule to call the FSC office. Then, a staff member comes to the door to admit them. Larson and Campbell explained that the vestibule is tiny. With winter approaching, there is no way to safely serve waiting visitors. The security guard’s presence will permit customers to use the phone, enter the heated lobby area and be seated while maintaining social distancing requirements. Campbell said that this arrangement will protect citizens and staff for the duration of the funding period. He added that this will be a test period for using a security guard at the FSC. If the arrangement proves successful, it may become permanent.
· Administrator Larson requested $4500 to facilitate moving the Geographic Information System employees into the county recorder’s office. The move requires construction of a wall and wiring.
· Social Services Director Rhonda Porter requested the purchase of 25 basic tablets for $5625. The tablets will be used by children assigned to foster care to facilitate foster-parent monitored virtual visits with parents and to do tele-health appointments. School-distributed laptops may not be used for this purpose. When a child leaves foster care, the tablet will be returned to the department.
· Social Services Director Porter requested $1020 to purchase 12 car seats for staff to transport small children. Covid-19 safety guidelines require that a minimum of 24 hours pass between the car seat sanitation process and the next use. The department doesn’t currently own enough car seats to meet safety requirements.
· Clay County Correctional Facility Administrator Julie Savat requested $7767 for a three-year enrollment with Corrections One Online Training. Specific continuing education trainings are required annually for correctional facility staff, but in-person trainings have been canceled due to the pandemic. The existing staff training allocation in the current budget will be supplemented by the CARES Act funds.
· Social Services Director Porter with the support of Commissioner Jenny Mongeau requested $25,000 to be used through Lakes & Prairies Community Action Partnership (CAPLP).
• The bulk of the funds will be used to provide food gift cards for the 190 seniors receiving monthly commodity boxes through CAPLP and will be placed in the November and December boxes. Some gift cards will be distributed to those utilizing community center senior services.
• Covid-related mental health services will be provided to seniors who utilize community centers and in age-based living facilities.
• A brochure explaining community senior services both pre- and post-Covid will be developed. Porter said, “I think there is information not reaching some of our seniors because everything is online.”
• Some funds may be allocated to expand the services of CAPLP’s Rural Transportation Bus.