A variety of operations benefit from Audrain County CARES funds

A variety of operations benefit from Audrain County CARES funds
By: 
Dave Faries
Editor

CARES Act money continues to flow to area companies and organizations.

The Audrain County Commission recently opened phase four funding, which will be directed to nonprofits that have been unable to hold their usual fundraisers. Between July 24 and Sept. 22, the focus was helping with the purchase of protective equipment and assistance with the cost of rent and utilities.
During that span, the County Commission dispersed money to 88 recipients, totaling $419,119.51. The amounts were as small as $40 to Dene Myers Design, all the way up to $48,156 allocated to Webber Pharmacy, Jackson St. Drug and Parkway Pharmacy.

The CARES Act was authorized on March 27 as the coronavirus pandemic began to take a toll on the economy. The $2.2 trillion dollar measure was intended to cover expenses related to COVID-19, from the cost of plastic shields and masks to contract tracing by health departments to businesses struggling to make payments on rent.

Missouri received $2.4 billion from the federal aid package. Audrain County’s share was close to $3 million.

The County Commission, which oversees CARES expenditures locally, has released money in phases. The initial allocations were to help recipients purchase personal protective gear and with virus-related costs suffered in the first few months of the pandemic. Another round was intended to protect against unanticipated issues the virus might cause in the near future.

In the period from late July to late September, 57 businesses and organizations, like Dene Myers Design sought help with the cost of personal protective gear. Another 30, such as the pharmacies, needed assistance paying the bills. One – Dos Arcos restaurant – received just over $1,200 to cover the cost of a disinfecting service.

“It’s very important,” Harold Williams, treasurer of the Farber Volunteer Fire Department, said of CARES funding. “The equipment – we have to raise money for that.”

The department received $169 to pay for personal protective gear for its firefighters. They also applied for round four funds after COVID-19 put an end to pancake breakfasts and burger sales that help fill the coffers in normal years.

“We think we’ll get money to cover fundraising,” Williams added.

All three school districts requested CARES funding for protective equipment, with close to $8,400 going to Van-Far, $7,350 allocated to Community and nearly $31,000 for the larger Mexico district. Care facilities like The King’s Daughters Home required over $31,000 to mitigate the spread of the virus. Tri-County Care Center received more than $33,000, but for assistance with bills.

The cities of Laddonia, Farber and Vandalia took in small amounts for equipment.

Recipients including larger employers Poet Biorefining and small operations such as Nail Tips, groups like the Audrain County Historical Society, services including Anointed Life Saving Ministry.

Audrain County Associate Commissioner Tracy R. Graham makes it clear that the monies provided through CARES did not replace revenue lost by businesses as a result of the virus. Instead, it covered expenses incurred that owners were struggling to pay.

“It doesn’t take long to rack up expenses,” Graham pointed out. “If they are not in business, that hurts everyone in the community.”

The economic impact of the pandemic can be seen in the types of businesses seeking money to help with rent and utilities. Many of these are small businesses and restaurants. One – Get Baked Bakery in Mexico – was allotted over $5,000 in CARES funding but was forced to shut down anyway.
“People aren’t getting out,” said Williams, who said one local barber shop has seen a 50 percent drop in foot traffic. “I don’t blame them – it’s not worth getting someone sick.”

Several service organizations, such as the Elk’s Lodge and Knights of Columbus in Mexico requested help with the bills, as did the Presser Hall Preservation Society.

The act covers a broad range of expenses: disinfecting public spaces, food delivery to senior citizens, social distancing measures, medical costs such as testing, losses due to the interruption of business, distance learning, construction related to the pandemic and so on.
Allocations follow guidelines from the US Treasury Department. And the Commission verifies all expenditures.

“I feel it’s been a very important thing to help businesses move forward,” Graham said.

Checks for phase four recipients start going out this month. Graham notes that money directed to nonprofits remains in the community.

Up to 15 percent of a county’s CARES funds are set aside for health departments. Those funds remain available.

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