Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Commission discusses ARPA distributions

As the election looms, emotions are certainly running high in Bates County and as of late, coffee shop and Facebook chatter has centered around the Bates County Commissioners disbursement of first round America Rescue Plan funds. While information regarding Bates county dollars were already made available, Mid America Live and KMAM/KMOE radio station met with Presiding Commissioner Jim Wheatley, Southern Commissioner Trent Nelson and Northern Commissioner Ken Mooney to get information together and answer a few questions.

Through this, there have been questions regarding the timeline of applicants and Wheatley stated that yes, there were prior verbal discussions with those wanting to apply, however “final consideration was given in order that written applications were received.”

At the forefront of that particular discussion was funding for the Osage Valley rural internet project, which he says their written application was not received until later in the phase, ruling them out for the first round; however he did make it clear that they will be the first to be funded, approximately $750,000, in the second round disbursement which will happen this October. 

While the county is set to receive 3.14 million when all is said and done, here’s who made the first round:

Hume Alliance Ministry $15,855.00
Adrian Rural Fire Department $30,396.29
Adrian Rural Fire Department $53,493.71
Public Water Supply Dist #6 $250,000.00
Public Water Supply Dist  #2 $375,356.50
Public Water Supply Dist #5 $342,508.00
Public Water Supply Dist #3 $213,747.50
Bates Co Fair $274,120.00 (will receive a total of $356,776.00 with balance due in second round).

“I’d like to add that we didn’t make any final decisions until we received a final ruling from the U.S. Treasury which happened in January” said Wheatley pointing out that the commission wanted to play it safe in the event the rules changed.

Indeed, there were some changes along the way and the final categories eligible for requests included water, stormwater and wastewater projects, broadband internet, public health, behavior health, public safety and economic development among other things.

As the playing field had now widened regarding who could apply, now decisions were made regarding why those listed were awarded, and Wheatley offered this summation of each of the recipients in a nutshell:

The Hume Ministerial group feed approximately 200 families in that area. That translates to 400 to 600 people.  They needed either a refrigeration or freezer unit to keep food for distribution.

The Adrian Fire Department had two vehicles, a brush truck and rescue truck that were becoming a serious maintenance and reliability issue. 

Water districts needing to replace,  upgrade or install new water lines; do water tower painting and other tower maintenance.

The Bates county fair intends to use the money for rework of the youth building, finishing the new arena and other updates. Wheatley did say that money for the fair was heavily based on “investing in the youth of our community”.

During our meeting with the Bates county commissioners, it was pointed out that there were many who applied that either did not meet the criteria or otherwise were ineligible. 

In continuation of this story, Mid America Live will next interview those who received first round money to get specific details regarding how the funds will be used, along with reasoning behind it. In a separate article, we plan to speak with Osage Valley regarding their new timeline, as well as other impacts on the rural internet project.

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