County commissioners to have CARES Act business reimbursement plan by July 1

By Laura Schiermeier, Staff Writer
Posted 6/24/20

VIENNA — The Maries County Commissioners continue to have discussions about the CARES Act money, the $1,020,000 the county received from the federal government to assist cities and public …

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County commissioners to have CARES Act business reimbursement plan by July 1

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VIENNA — The Maries County Commissioners continue to have discussions about the CARES Act money, the $1,020,000 the county received from the federal government to assist cities and public entities with COVID-19 expenses they never expected to have. The recent discussion has been about how to best offer some financial compensation to county businesses without running out of money that is supposed to last until the end of 2020.

At the June 15 meeting, Presiding Commissioner Victor Stratman had a CARES Act request form developed for Livingston County. He said its pretty simple. Any request received for the CARES reimbursement has to be documented. As far as how Maries County will handle requests for reimbursement from businesses has not been decided. Stratman said he thinks they will have to put a limit on the amount any business can request or collect.

At last Thursday’s meeting, Stratman brought it up again, saying they have to decide what they are going to with businesses and CARES Act money. He asked his fellow commissioners if they think a portion of the $1,020,000 should and set it aside for businesses only. This portion would be used to make payments to those businesses that could not be open during the state ordered coronavirus shutdown that Maries County had to go along with as well. Stratman said he knows hairdressers were impacted and the nursing home.

Western District Commissioner Ed Fagre said the businesses will need to prove what money they lost because they could not be open for business as usual. This might be a comparison of what they earned the previous year. Stratman said he anticipates getting requests from hairdressers and the nursing home.

Eastern District Commissioner Doug Drewel said nobody seems to be asking about it.

Every county is doing its own thing, Stratman said. Six of the eight counties in the MRPC region are using MRPC to assist them with the reimbursement of the federal money. Fagre said Miller County went with its Lake area planning commission. But, Pulaski County, he said, formed its own committee, which includes the cities in the county as well.

Stratman said he thinks they should include businesses in the CARES reimbursement because they have the funds to do it. But, the commissioners think there will have to be a dollar amount limit or a percentage of the total amount the county received set aside to assist businesses that suffered losses because of the coronavirus. If a lot of businesses request the coronavirus reimbursement, the amount of money could become large very quickly. They talked about a $10,000 cap.

Businesses can’t be reimbursed if they’ve received money from other government sources. Fagre said they’ll just have to trust people on this. Stratman reminded them that this money will be audited. Drewel said with an audit, it will fall on the individual businesses that seek money allocations to tell the truth about any other reimbursements and to be honest about their losses.

Fagre said the biggest losses are from hairdressers and barbers. Drewel commented that $10,000 sounds good “but we may not have enough money.” The schools could get $100,000 apiece and there won’t be enough money to last until December. Stratman said the decision about the business reimbursements is a work in progress. Drewel said he thinks they will need to establish a ceiling.

County Clerk Rhonda Rodgers said she kept some numbers about the virus. On March 24 there were 225 positive cases of Covid-19 in Missouri and there had been 5 deaths. On June 10, there were 15,000 positive cases of the coronavirus in Missouri and there were 848 deaths attributed to it.

Fagre commented the rural areas are the least affected by the virus. The day before, Fagre said the Missouri governor said he would shut down the state again if the virus numbers continue to climb exponentially. Drewel said if that happens the government will start paying out money again. “Where will the money come from?”

HALF A DAY OFF

Rodgers read an email forwarded to her by Circuit Clerk and Recorder Mark Buschmann: “Attached is a memorandum from Kathy Lloyd advising that Chief Justice Draper has authorized the closing of all judicial offices at noon on Friday, June 19, 2020 to allow employees to reflect on recent events and the Juneteenth holiday. 

All state paid, benefit eligible judiciary employees are entitled to administrative leave from noon to the end of their normal workday for this closing. This half day off pertains only to employees of the court.

According to wikipedia, Juneteenth, or June 19, is also known as Freedom Day, Jubilee Day and Liberation Day and is an unofficial American holiday and official Texas state holiday. It commemorates the Union army general Gordon Granger’s reading of federal orders in Galveston, Texas on June 19, 1865, proclaiming all slaves in Texas were now free. The Emancipation Proclamation had formally freed them two and a half years earlier, and the American Civil War had largely ended with the defeat of the Confederate States. Texas was the most remote of the slave states and enforcement of the proclamation had been slow and inconsistent.

There is an activist movement campaigning for the United States Congress to recognize Juneteenth as a national holiday.

Missing signs and deep ditches

Stratman said Shorty Hays reported missing county road signs on MCR 617. Fagre said the road crew replaces the signs and they steal them again. Some places have had as many as 12 signs stolen. Hays also reported a culvert that washes over and Fagre said, “Every time it rains.”

Another citizen spoke to Stratman about the Kenner Church Road. Some city people bought some property and they have been running people off the road into the ditch and it’s a deep ditch.

Fill out your Census

Stratman said it is important for all Maries County residents to fill out their Census information, either on paper or online. At the MRPC meeting it was reported the MRPC region is below the state average of 61 percent for citizens filling out the Census. The US average is 60.8 percent. Within the Meramec Region, Maries County has the lowest percentage at 42.5 percent. Phelps County has the highest at 55.4 percent. In Maries County, Belle had a Census completion rate of only 21.7 percent and Vienna’s was 36.4 percent.

“It’s easy and people need to do it,” he said. “If we don’t get the funding it will go to Illinois.”

Deaths are up

Other information he received at the MRPC meeting was that traffic levels are down, but the number of traffic deaths are up.

Also, the state’s gasoline tax revenues are down about $45 million due to the coronavirus putting everything on hold for over a month.

Dust control

The commissioners asked for a week’s notice before the company county residents have contracted with spray the dust control product on the county roads near their homes. The product is calcium chloride and it costs about $1 per foot. It does a good job keeping the dust down. Residents they were informed who were purchasing this product includes Eric Johnson, Olin Mitchell, Carol Withouse, Vicki Withouse, Steve Steinman, and Henry Wansing.

NATURALLY MERAMEC

Stratman said if anyone in the county is interested in regional marketing for a farmers market for example, they can contact him and he will give them information. He’s talking about Naturally Meramec in the MRPC region that works to capture the uniqueness of the region, making it a destination. It promotes local products and services in the region and assists small agriculture, tourism and culinary businesses through collective marketing efforts, education, training and technical assistance. Business owners in the region benefit from the relationships with other business owners. Naturally Meramec members pay dues to be part of the marketing program.

Buildings and Grounds

The commissioners reported Linda Adkins will be the new part time employee at the Vienna License Office.

They are still waiting on the plumber to come and saw into the floor to install the plumbing for the new decontamination shower in the women’s restroom in the basement sheriff’s office. The boiler room is becoming a catch-all for items the sheriff’s office can’t find storage for. They think the county will be written up when the boiler is inspected as there are stored items too close to the boiler and its hard to move around in that room because of all the stuff. Some new jail mattresses and inmate clothing recently were stored there.

Stratman spoke with Deputy Donnie Chambers who said the yellow line around the boiler is to keep away placement of flammable fluids. They are working on cleaning out the area.

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