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Cole County enters 3rd phase of CARES funding distribution

Cole County has begun its third phase of distributing federal COVID-19 relief funds from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act.

The Cole County Commission on Tuesday approved continuing this phase through Oct. 31.

Officials with BKD, a Springfield accounting firm assisting the county in meeting its obligations under the CARES Act, said they would continue to review applications received through the county’s website to make sure they meet CARES Act guidelines.

The commission agreed with BKD that the county should carry over the funding priorities for schools as well as hospitals, medical centers and nursing homes that were part of previous phases.

Applicants that are approved will receive an agreement that must be signed and returned within 10 business days.

In this third phase of distribution, commissioners said the money will be distributed in the following ways:

• $1 million for schools.

• $1.5 million for medical centers, hospitals and nursing homes as well as COVID-19 testing and contact tracing.

• $1 million for cities within the county.

• $300,000 for nonprofit organizations, with a maximum of $25,000 per organization.

• $200,000 for small businesses, with a maximum of $5,000 per business. This money is only for businesses that have not received other COVID-19 funding.

• $1.7 million for internal county needs, with a focus on public health and employee safety.

• $1.8 million in contingency funds.

Commissioners on Tuesday approved several hundred thousand dollars in applications for CARES Act funding.

This included $3,181 for window intercoms for Jefferson City.

The commission also approved $43,184 for the Cole County R-1 School District in Russellville. This includes money for 70 wireless hotspots for students without rural broadband, 95 infrared thermometers, sanitizing equipment and a license for the i-Ready online reading and mathematics program for kindergarten through sixth grade.

Commissioners also approved $285,880 for county expenses. The majority of that amount, $285,000, was for BKD’s services. The remaining $880 for a sanitizer sprayer for the Cole County Hazmat Team.

There was also $23,968 in funds approved for health care providers. This included $8,073 for 15 Chromebooks, one MacBook and accessories for client telehealth use at Day Solutions Inc., an independently owned and operated day habitation program for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Commissioners also approved $32,577 for nonprofit organizations, including $27,201 for the United Way of Central Missouri. Although the United Way received an amount higher than the $25,000 threshold the commission had set for individual nonprofit requests, BKD officials said it should be approved because the money will go to help multiple organizations the United Way works with. In its application, the United Way said the money would replenish part of its emergency grants awarded to various organizations during the pandemic.

In all, the commission approved $388,790 in CARES funds Tuesday, leaving $7,531,753 in available CARES Act funds for the county to distribute. The county received a total of just more than $9 million in CARES Funds in March.

The commission is scheduled to meet Thursday, when proposals for public COVID-19 testing in the county will be brought forth. Those testing proposals, along with funding contact tracers to work with public and private schools in the county, are expect to be the largest expenses to be addressed with Cole County’s CARES Act money, in addition to ongoing costs for personal protective equipment for EMS and health care providers.

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