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Small businesses eligible for relief grants

BELLEFONTE — Last week, the Centre County commissioners announced that relief grants would be available for local bars and restaurants. This week, they added small businesses to the mix.

The grants, which will come from a portion of the county’s $14.7 million in in Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding received from the state, will be available soon.

Mary Kay Williams, the county’s block grant relief coordinator, spoke at Tuesday’s meeting and talked about making small business eligible for the grants.

“We are moving fast and furiously with the block grant,” Williams said. “The biggest change that we have is that we are going to open up the grant not just to restaurants and (bars), but it’s going to be to all small businesses. That’s changed our process a bit as far as how we collect the data.”

Now, struggling local bars, restaurants and businesses will be able to apply. The mitigation efforts include reducing occupancy of bars and restaurants to 25 percent capacity, allowing alcohol service only with meals and allowing service only at a table or booth. Nightclubs that did not serve food were also ordered to close.

Business owners hoping for a relief grant will be playing the waiting game.

“We are really trying to do our very, very best of getting the foundational pieces laid out so when this grant goes live, it’s going to problem-free,” Williams said.

The grant application will go out to small businesses in Centre County. According to Williams, there are approximately 4,800 businesses registered.

“We’re going to be opening it up for everybody and then proceed from there,” she said.

A local business owner — who did not identify himself — was present at the meeting and said that he was pleased to hear the grants were being opened up to local businesses.

“Stay tuned,” said commissioner Steve Dershem, “we’ll be updating the whole process.”

Chair of the BOC Michael Pipe explained the reasoning behind opening the grants up to small businesses.

“The reason why we were looking at doing restaurants and bars was due to the governor’s targeted mitigation efforts on restaurants and bars that significantly decreased the amount of business that they were able to do during the pandemic,” Pipe said. “What we looked at was, we had other businesses that were effected also by the targeted mitigation efforts. It’s difficult to draw a line of delineation between them. In addition, many other businesses have been effected, obviously. In terms of streamlining it, in terms of simplifying it, that was the best course of action.”

Business owners interested in the funding should visit centrecountypa.gov/crbg.

In other business Tuesday, the commissioners approved:

— An intergovernmental housing agreement with Huntingdon County. The contract rate is $65 per day for the period of Jan. 1, 2020 through Dec. 31, 2020.

— A memorandum of understanding with Centre Safe to provide assistance in complying with the Federal Prison Rape Elimination Act. There is no cost for this contract through Dec. 31, 2020.

— A contract with Thomson-Reuters-Westlaw Proflex to provide access to a multitude of online legal research data, including but not limited to all state and federal cases, statutes, regulations, administrative decisions and directives. The contract total is $59,370 inclusive of a 3 percent annual increase for the period of Aug. 22, 2020 through Aug. 21, 2021.

— An intergovernmental agreement between the BOC, County Sheriff’s Department, and Court of Common Pleas of Centre County,

Domestic Relations Section for services provided by the Security Office of the Willowbank Building. Expenditures under this agreement will be submitted for reimbursement as Title IV-D related security costs for a 66 percent reimbursement. This agreement is for the period of October 132, 2020

through September 30, 2025 – Dept. 281.

— Title IV-D Cooperative Agreement with the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services and the Court of Common Pleas outlining each agency’s responsibilities in administering the Title IV-D child support enforcement program. This agreement is for the period of October 1, 2020 through Sept. 30, 2025 – Dept. 281.

— Title IV-D Attorney contract with Kimberly Hamilton to provide legal services to assist in the establishment and enforcement of support orders. The contract rate is $125 per hour, which is 66 percent Federally funded, for the period of Oct. 1, 2020 through Sept. 30, 2025.

— Title IV-D Attorney contract with Caren Bloom to provide legal services to assist in the establishment and enforcement of support orders. The contract rate is $125 per hour, which is 66 percent Federally funded, for the period of Oct. 1, 2020 through Sept. 30, 2025.

— A contract with Service Access Management, Inc. to provide financial management services for the Office of Adult Services. The contract

total is $8,000 for the period of July 1, 2020 through Aug. 31, 2020.

— A contract with Service Access Management, Inc. to provide administrative assistance for the 2020 CARES Rent Relief Program. The contract is $485,000 for services and $15,000 for administration, a total a $500,000, which is Federally funded for the period of March 1, 2020 through December 31, 2020.

— A contract renewal with Bobbie Rabuck, Esq., to provide legal consultation for the Office of Aging. The contract total is $11,025 for an estimated 35 hours annually during the period of July 24, 2020 through July 24, 2023.

All of the approved items were moved to next week’s consent agenda.

The Centre County commissioners will meet again at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 11 at the Willowbank Building. The meeting will be televised live on C-NET.

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