Commission Collects COVID-19 Cash

County Commissioners Meeting - Carol J. Seeger

As the community navigates life after the novel coronavirus, the Campbell County Board of Commissioners has looked to the Bureau of Justice Administration (BJA) as well as the Economic Development Administration (EDA) to lend a hand with some COVID-19 grant funding.

The board approved the county’s submission of an application for the EDA’s COVID-19 Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act grant.

Commissioners Office Administrative Director Carol Seeger explained during Tuesday’s commissioners meeting, that the competitive grant is being offered to “coal-impacted communities.”

A phone conversation was organized about three to four weeks ago between Campbell County, Lincoln County and the U.S. Department of Commerce.

It was revealed during the phone call that Campbell County is eligible to apply for the CARES Act Infrastructure grant because of a failed project idea from 2009.

The Pronghorn Industrial Park was a piece of land located east of town, that the county hoped to occupy with General Electric’s coal gastrulation plant. The county’s proposal to begin the process was denied due to the area’s lack of shovel-ready sites.

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During the meeting, Seeger commented, “This is a theme we’ve seen over the years. We’ve run into multiple issues because we don’t have shovel-ready sites.”

The EDA CARES Act Infrastructure grant, she went on, is a great fit for Campbell County because it will provide a foundation for potential economic developers to build on.

Kevin King, Public Works executive director, then took to took to the podium, explaining that if approved by the board, the grant would be used to create eight shovel-ready sites, improve three roads and build an effective sewage system for the cost of about $11.5 million, of which the application will request 100%.

Commission Chairman DG Reardon compared this figure to the $9 million one that he had seen before sewage costs were added. King estimated that the cost of sewage installation to that area would run around $2.5 million.

Seeger spoke to the sewage spending. “Adding sewer makes this is a more marketable industrial park,” she said.

The board reviewed the application, though it was not ready to be submitted. Seeger explained that the board could make the approval to submit the application upon its actual completion.

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Reardon commented, “I think what you have is good enough for us to get started on this submission process. We don’t want to miss our window of opportunity.”

Seeger predicted that the application would be ready to submit within the next “couple of weeks.”

Earlier in the meeting, the board signed a contract on behalf of the county with the BJA, Office of Justice and Department of Justice (DOJ) securing a $63,682 Coronavirus Supplemental Funding Grant. Campbell County Grant Specialist Beth Raab submitted an application to the BJA in late May to purchase COVID-19 prevention items for the Courthouse.

Raab said she will prepare purchase orders and conduct the overall spending of the grant. She explained that, as the county’s point of contact for this grant, she is required by the DOJ to complete the Office of Justice Programs (OJP) Financial Management and Grant Training before handling the funds. Raab also plans to continue working with Public Works Facilitator Bill Beastrom to make effective purchases in relation to COVID-19.

The board of commissioners unanimously voted to sign the contract, which required no match by the county, after Reardon commended Raab for acquiring the grant.

“It’s not something we would have usually had in our budget,” Reardon said. “So being able to recover anything in support of (COVID-19 prevention), that’s great for us.”