City of Flemington Mayor Paul Hawkins and council member and Mayor Pro Tem Palmer Dash, City clerk Jenelle Gordon and Timothy Byler, the Pastor of Connection Church, met during a Special Called Meeting Aug. 13, to discuss how to utilize Coronavirus Relief Funds (CRF) that have been issued to the community.
Mayor and council held the preliminary meeting to come up with ideas on how to best utilize the funds to meet the needs of Flemington residents as well as the city’s; these ideas will be presented to the city council in future meetings.
For the community of Flemington the city council planned on using the funds to help citizens pay their rent, utilities or other bills for anyone who has been financially ruined because of the pandemic. Other plans included offering assistance to those in quarantine, but who need to go places like to the grocery store or to medical appointments by providing them with transportation. They also intend to give grants to small businesses. Another suggestion was to use the money to help families increase their internet speed. “For example, think of the parents who have kids doing online learning. Maybe they have three children and they’re eating up the amount of bandwidth they have; we can help with that,” said city clerk, Jenelle Gordon.
Because of the pandemic certain things are now deemed necessary that weren’t before. The council members aim to use the CRF to cover wages of Sheriff’s Deputy and legal fees that are associated with COVID-19. The Mayor and council also discussed updating the City’s technology which would be covered by the grant as well.
The mayor stated that he wanted new tablets or laptops for the city council members to use. Other suggestions were buying high quality earphones and Zoom membership. Disinfecting city buildings and public areas like bus stops was also brought up during the meeting.
The CRF can be used for medical reasons too. The fund can be used to host a testing site or cover costs for residents who have to be tested for coronavirus on a regular basis for their job. Finally, council members are interested in donating a portion of money to other organizations around Liberty County such as medical facilities, faith communities, and nonprofits, “Due to the fact that COVID-19 has relieved so many people of their jobs, even the low income tax people, we end up feeding them plus the homeless we already had,” Hawkins said. “This will be a big boost to them and their lives. The manna house will be a good place to get some help.”
Timothy Byler promised to show up to the next meeting with a list of nonprofits in the area that the city can donate to. There will be more meetings in the future to finalize plans to utilize CRF. The next meeting will be at 3 p.m. Aug. 30, at Flemington City Hall. Anyone who has more ideas on how to spend the CRF are welcome.