Chambers, county work on CARES Act funds

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Compton: ’To support the commission is to support the communities’

On Thursday the Barry County Commission sat with the Shell Knob, Seligman, Monett and Cassville Chamber directors, as well as Emergency Management Director David Compton, to discuss how the $4 million in CAES Act money the county has received should be distributed.

Chamber directors have been on the front lines with their local businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic, while dealing with loses due to events being canceled or postponed.

At this time, some counties have decided to not use the money sent to them and return it instead.

Rachel Selby Freeman, Cassville chamber director, said all of the chamber directors have had regular conversations in the previous weeks.

“We wanted to present that there is a need here and we are willing to do whatever we can to make the process less overwhelming,” she said. “With Phase 2, we are willing to help bridge any communication gaps between the local businesses and county commission.”

Although many businesses are reopening, Selby Freeman said people will still feel the pains of COVID-19 for awhile.

“Your chambers are willing to help,” she said. “We are willing to help with decision making or wherever we can.”

A big part off that help will most likely come in the form of information.

“We can help pass along information and help businesses with their application processes,” Selby Freeman said. “We want our communities to have an opportunity.

“We are still advocating for businesses and our communities. There is no quick fix, but if we are all growing and successful it will help the whole community.”

A deadline for applications for Phase 1 money for local governments, public entities, political subdivisions and non-profits is June 26, and the commision hopes to have decisions made by July 30.

Another aspect pointed out by Cleta Stanley, Seligman chamber president, is that Seligman hasn’t specifically spent money that needs to be reimbursed.

The biggest hit to her has been the lack of money coming in.

Gary Youngblood, presiding commissioner, said last week’s press release gives procedure on how to fill out the application for Phase 1.

“If there is enough money left after that, we can have a Phase 2 and Phase 3,” he said. “It depends on the number of applications we get, and we may have to form a committee do help decide if there are a lot.”

Phase 1 is for expenses only from March 1 to May 30.

Jeff Meredith, Monett chamber director, said businesses that are not political subdivisions are going to struggle during this first phase.

David Compton, said the chambers have met and have a great idea on who needs it the most.

Gary Schad, Barry County northern commissioner, said schools and hospitals are a part of that first phase, and although $4.2 million sounds like a lot of money, those funds will be used faster than people think.

Twilia Harrison, Shell Knob chamber director, asked if it would be possible to hold a portion of the money specifically for the possibility of a Phase 2 or 3 for the possibility of a resurgence.

The answer to that was that it could only be determined after applications were reviewed and money was divided up.

Youngblood said the money has to be allocated by Dec. 31. If it is still in the bank after March 1, 2021, it will be sent back.

The goal for the first phase is to get people paid for the expenses that they have already paid out.

Stanley said excluding schools and hospitals, most people have lost more funds than they have paid in expenses.

Schad said the county has $4.2 million now, and is moving forward for everyone — it is public money.

The county commission’s plan is to distribute the funds, not return them.

Compton said the county commission is vocalizing that they are moving forward and will do so quickly, and to support the commission is to support the communities.

The chamber continued to advocate for local businesses by agreeing to stay in communication and help facilitate that communication back to local businesses.

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