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Cape county approves millions of CARES Act funding to cities, county

The Cape Girardeau County Commission approved millions of CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security) Act funding to go to the county, City of Jackson and City of Cape Girardeau, effectively giving out the vast majority of the county’s remaining CARES Act funding.

“We are coming down to the end of the distribution of our CARES funds, which were passed down from the federal government to all the states to assist in offsetting expenses related to the coronavirus,” First District Commissioner Paul Koeper said.

The State of Missouri received $2.38 billion of funding through the CARES Act and allowed the County to distribute $9,253,142 of the federal funds. The funds were required to be used for necessary expenditures that were incurred due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The expenditures could not have been already budgeted and must be incurred between March 1 and Dec. 30.

The Commission approved up to $2.4 million of funding to the county, up to $950,000 to Jackson and up to $2.1 million to Cape Girardeau during its Oct. 8 meeting.

The totals include reimbursements of wages for “frontline” first responders from each governmental agency, as well as previously approved equipment and funding.

“We requested payroll information for Cape Girardeau, Jackson and the county for police and fire personnel who were directly affected and on the frontline dealing with the coronavirus,” Koeper said.

Koeper added that they used that information to be able to reimburse 30 percent of police officers, firefighters and sheriff department officers’ salaries from March 1 through Dec. 30.

The County has been approving CARES Act requests from government agencies, organizations and businesses in the state since June. Schools were awarded $2.4 million, the Public Health Center was awarded $617,000, rural fire departments were awarded $152,000, county hospitals were awarded $48,000 and libraries were awarded $17,000.

With the latest approvals, the County has approved $9.2 million in CARES Act funding, leaving about $49,000 left to be dispersed. The County has not approved all the funding to reimburse businesses for personal protective equipment (PPE). The Cape Girardeau Area MAGNET has been compiling business PPE requests. So far the county has approved $227,000 of CARES Act funding for businesses.

“I really feel that we’ve done a good job of trying to award and distribute the money throughout the county,” Koeper said. “We tried to spread it out the best we could.”

The county had previously awarded the City of Jackson $25,800 and the City of Cape Girardeau $352,000 in CARES Act funding, which will also come from the totals approved on Oct. 8.

In other action:

• The County will soon have an additional 20 automated external defibrillators (AEDs). The Commission approved purchasing 29 AEDs, replacing nine AEDs that were 11 years old.

Emergency Management Deputy Director Sam Herndon said the new AEDs will be located in each county building and every sheriff deputy’s patrol vehicle.

He said that the increase does not just include equipping the sheriff deputies with AED. The Cape Girardeau County Courthouse, for instance, only had one AED. “With three floors and restricted areas, we thought we were deficient at the Justice Center,” Herndon said. The courthouse will soon have three AEDs – one for each level.

Herndon said the batteries and pads for the new AEDs will be good for four years. He added that the safety checks for the AEDs could be done remotely, unlike the previously used devices.

The approved quote, which totaled $60,788, included two trainers, carrying cases and two wall cabinets to store AEDs at the courthouse. The total also included buying back the county’s old devices.

• The Commission approved a request from Recorder of Deeds Drew Blattner to digitize some of the county’s survey documents. Blattner said he would pay for the digitization with $3,571 worth of credits the county has accumulated with the company Fidlar Technologies through its land-record Tapestry program.

Blattner said after these survey documents are digitized, 99 percent of the records the general public wants to access will have been digitally scanned and available online. He added that there are still loose-leaf documents, primarily at the County Archive Center, that will need to be digitized and preserved.

• An overlay of County Road 335 was approved by the commissioners at a cost of $242,598. Koeper said the road was originally scheduled to be overlaid this year, but was taken off because it was thought to be out of the County’s budget. Koeper said the project became possible again because asphalt prices were lower than expected and other construction projects came in under budget.

• The Commission approved $36,839 for additional security cameras at the new Cape Girardeau County Courthouse in Jackson. The additional cameras cover areas in the holding cells and the walkway from the county jail. The County received the quote from KT Power Systems, the original subcontractor for the new courthouse.

Jay Forness covers education, county government and community events for The Cash-Book Journal. He graduated from Southeast Missouri State University with a degree in multimedia journalism and has lived in Jackson for the past four years. He can be reached at cbjedit@socket.net.

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