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CARES funding approved in Prince Edward

The Prince Edward County CARES Act Committee’s fifth round of recommended funding allocations totaled $580,201, with significant amounts set to go to fire departments, first responders and emergency management services (EMS) agencies.

Sarah Puckett

The county’s Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to approve the recommendation Tuesday evening, Nov. 10.

The county has been given nearly $4 million in CARES Act funds by the federal government. The funds are designed to offer relief in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. Prince Edward has $683,174 left to spend by Dec. 30.

“To date, we still have no action by Congress to extend the Dec. 30th deadline,” Prince Edward Acting County Administrator Sarah Puckett said Tuesday, noting the CARES Act Committee will be making more recommendations soon to wrap up the process.

In this fifth round, the committee came up with a formula for how to allocate CARES Act funds to each of the fire departments in the county.

“As the board knows, you make an annual donation to each fire department in the amount of $74,800,” Puckett said to the board. “That is not 100% of the cost for them to operate annually. So they annually do fundraising to fill the void in their operational budgets, and the committee recommends that each fire department be allocated $15,000 for lost (fundraising) revenue. If that fire department also houses an EMS agency, that would be an additional $15,000 for that agency.”

She said the committee also looked at the call volume of each department in 2019 and agreed to allocate to each department $100 per fire call to which they responded.

This resulted in $78,200 for Farmville Volunteer Fire Department, which offers first responder services; $60,600 for Hampden-Sydney Volunteer Fire Department, which also offers first responder services; $43,600 for Meherrin Volunteer Fire and Rescue, which includes EMS; $30,100 for Prospect Volunteer Fire Department; $27,700 for Rice Volunteer Fire Department; $21,300 for Darlington Heights Volunteer Fire Department; and $21,200 for Pamplin Volunteer Fire Department.

“The committee will still need to consider a lost fundraising revenue donation for the Prince Edward Volunteer Rescue Squad,” Puckett said. “They do over 3,000 calls a year, so I’m not certain any of the formulas that we have would work specifically for them.”

The other “to be determined” allocation on the round five recommendation spreadsheet belonged to a listing for PEVRS in reference to an ambulance.

After emerging from closed session Tuesday, the board unanimously approved a motion to authorize PEVRS to bid on a truck that is being sold by sealed bid by Pamplin Volunteer Fire & EMS.

Pamplin recently had to discontinue its EMS transport services.

PEVRS also had three additional listings on the round five recommendation spreadsheet, one for lost revenue from September to October in the amount of $48,720, one for COVID leave expenses from September to October in the amount of $480 and one for overtime expenses from August to October in the amount of $4,533.

Meherrin EMS was listed for these same categories, except the timeframe was March to October for each of them — $13,770 for lost revenue, $1,938 for overtime expenses and $655 for COVID leave.

“The Town of Farmville had miscellaneous COVID expenses that were vetted by the committee and found to be accurate and COVID necessary,” Puckett said as she covered other items in the committee’s recommendation. “They also asked for upgrades to their council room (audiovisual) AV equipment similar to what we’ve done here in the Board of Supervisors room.”

The town’s COVID expenses totaled $2,443, and the council room AV equipment upgrades totaled $66,975.

Jim Wilck

Farmville 701 District Supervisor Jim Wilck asked if the upgrades are “kicked back,” — not approved by the federal government as an acceptable use of CARES Act funds — will the town reimburse the county for it?

“The reason being is I listened very closely to that one, and the amount that’s related to COVID is infinitesimal, and I think they’re just upgrading it at our expense, which is fine, except if it is kicked back, I don’t want to have to pay for it,” he said.

Puckett said she would make a note of it.

Additional funding of  $31,000 was allocated in the recommendation to provide funding for economic recovery.

Prince Edward County Director of Economic Development Kate Pickett noted Tuesday that the county Industrial Development Authority CARES Act Committee, which has received $300,000 to allocate to small businesses, requested an additional $31,000 to fund the 11 final applications it had received from small businesses for grant money.

Another $25,000 was allocated to law enforcement officers to pay for AEDs. According to Redcross.org, an AED, or automated external defibrillator, is used to help those experiencing sudden cardiac arrest. The round five recommendation spreadsheet indicated four AEDs would be for the Farmville Police Department and four would be for Prince Edward County Sheriff’s Office.

An additional $25,000 was also allocated to EMS agencies to provide lift bags, which are designed to be placed under the patient and, when inflated, will place the patient in a seated position, making it easier to assist them to their feet.

“This allocation would purchase one for every EMS transport truck and both of our first responders that operate in the county,” Puckett said. “And then sometimes the fire departments assist with those, but any EMS agency would show up with it.”

A total of $24,804 went to fund the Emergency Management Performance Grant-Supplemental match, which refers to matching funds for a state grant.

Funds of $14,912 went to improvements to the Piedmont Regional Jail Authority. These funds will help create a safer environment for inmates at the jail, allowing the facility to have a cleaner environment with ventilation upgrades, helping guard against COVID-19.

The Heart of Virginia Free Clinic will receive $10,500 for lost financial subsidies of labs and X-rays by Centra.

The Prince Edward County Information Technology (IT) Department will receive $10,000.

“We’re installing additional firewall security, especially with, I’m going to say, the expanded work-from-home capacity that we have and that we probably need to anticipate over the winter as COVID cases rise,” Puckett said. “This is an additional firewall that protects the county’s IT and financial software systems.”

A total of $7,000 was allocated under Emergency Management-Public Health, with a reference on the round five recommendation spreadsheet to the flu clinic and a “COVID Vaccine POD Functional Exercise.”

”This was the funding for the flu clinic, which you approved in advance, but we went ahead and included it in this so that it would be contained in a committee recommendation,” Puckett said to the board.

Three line items on the round five recommendation spreadsheet pertained to crowd management tools the county’s tourism office identified as things that could also be used by other county departments. The tools include 10 portable extendable barriers for $4,210, a commercial gate operator for $3,170 and five Retracta-Belt barriers for $890.

A total of $1,500 was allocated to the Jolly Glee Senior Citizens for what Puckett described as lost revenue from Piedmont Senior Resources for the use of their facility.