More CARES Act Funding Proposed and Approved

Karen Newman

At their September 1 meeting, Clay County Commissioners heard and approved new spending proposals for Clay County’s CARES Act funds. County Administrator Stephen Larson and Human Resources Director Darren Brooke reported that 83 applications for the Small Business Relief segment of the program have been submitted.  The CARES Act committee purchased online advertising about program applications. A new ad will remind viewers that funding applications must be submitted by midnight on September 7. Small businesses with up to twenty employees may be eligible for up to $10,000 in funding.  Sole proprietorships are eligible for up to $3000. The grants are noncompetitive and will be awarded equally if approved by the CARES Act committee.

Commissioner Kevin Campbell emphasizes, “We want to see all our county businesses, whether you are in Moorhead or outside city limits, receive the same type of CARES benefit.”   For questions and further information about the program, see the website at https://claycountymn.gov/1570/CARES-Small-Business-COVID-19-Relief-Grant.

Administrator Larson explained the request for $450,000 from the Infrastructure portion of the CARES funds.  The committee proposes repurposing two existing third-floor meeting rooms into a Courthouse Multi-Purpose Community Meeting Room with updated technology to provide online access to citizens and board members participating in meetings from remote locations. Larson added that adapting to the distancing requirements imposed by COVID-19 revealed that the Clay County Courthouse has very limited capacity to provide remote participation.  He continued by explaining that in addition to hosting meetings of county boards, committees and departments, the county operates an emergency-preparedness center during natural disasters.  The current center isn’t large enough to accommodate a physically-distanced task force.  The proposed center will fill this need.  

Clay County Social Services Director Rhonda Porter and Health Promotion Director Rory Beil appeared before the board to present a funding request from the CARES Act Community Resiliency allocation. Beil explained how some of the $500,000 Community Resilience funding will be spent, “The focus is to address community mental health needs, as well as stipulated needs for students, parents and teachers due to COVID. We reached out to partners in the community/organizations that might help to meet that focus.”

 Porter explained that several groups’ proposals received committee approval with a few pending. Organizations approved to divide $388,000 in funding for work with COVID-related community, teacher, student and parent mental health needs in Clay County are:

· REACH (Rural Enrichment and Counseling Headquarters)

· Lakeland Mental Health Center

· The Village Family Service Center

· A Place for Hope and Recovery

· Lutheran Social Services

· New American Consortium

· Afro-American Development Association

· Solutions

Porter emphasized the importance of working with established organizations with identified needs and programs-in-place so that the spending deadline of December 1 may be met.

Clay County Social Services Director Porter presented a funding proposal for two improvements the Technology Infrastructure allocation of CARES Act funds. Citing the need for improved document management, the Social Services department proposes the acquisition of software to expand the capabilities of their existing programs.  The E-Signature software will permit documents to be signed virtually and transmitted securely from the department to client and back, saving time and providing physical distancing.  The software may be utilized by smartphone, tablet or personal computer.  The cost is $15,000.

Porter requested $95,000 for accounting software that integrates with Social Service’s existing software.  It is already in place in a few neighboring counties, Becker, Brown and Polk, included.

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