Committee continues to distribute CARES ACT funds

Angie Talken

This week, the remainder of the business grants from CARES ACT funding will be distributed, said Livingston County Presiding Commissioner Ed Douglas.

This, the second group of businesses to receive grants, come from the second round of 26 applicants. Douglas said more than 100 businesses were helped in some way by the grants from the federal government program that gave each county money, based on population to help with a variety of expenditures due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Livingston County received $1,786,431 of CARES ACT funds. When it came to the distribution of the funds, Douglas said a committee was formed to discuss where the most need was and to ensure those groups and programs who qualified could get needed funds, as outlined in the CARES ACT. Cities and counties cannot use the money to fill in budget gaps due to the virus. Funds can be used to help with distance learning costs, sanitation, testing and more.

An oversight committee made up of city and county leaders and a secondary business groups made up of the Chillicothe Area Chamber of Commerce, Main Street Chillicothe, Chillicothe Industrial Development Cooperation and all five local banks helped the oversight committee with ideas to assist businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic, and in the distribution of funds to those businesses needing assistance.

In total, Douglas said the county passed along more than $650,000 in CARES ACT funding to Livingston County businesses.

“This was about $200,000 more than we had planned to spend, “ he said. “But we realized there was more of a need and we felt it was important to help our local businesses.”

Douglas said superintendents from area schools including, Chillicothe R-II School District Bishop Hogan Memorial School, Livingston County R-III in Chula, Southwest and Tina Avalon, gathered and made a presentation to the commissioners about distance learning.

The oversight committee agreed to award the schools a total of $141,000 to be used for distance learning, for things like hotspots, computers and more.

“We wanted to help the schools because we know distance learning was very important,” Douglas said noting that while Tina-Avalon is in Carroll County, there are a few students who do attend school in Livingston County. Funds for Tina-Avalon are based on the number of students who attend classes here.

Douglas said the committee has allocated or spent about 50 percent of the CARES ACT funds the county received. They have until Dec.31 to spend the money. Douglas noted the county’s funds have also been spent on community testing, supplies and more.

“I feel like we are right where we need to be,” he said noting as the situation with COVID-19 continues to change the committee is looking forward, trying to anticipate future needs.