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Commission extends COVID-19 disaster declaration
This allows county to request protective supplies
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County lists Memorial Day closings, changes

County Business Offices will be closed on Monday, May 25,  in observance of Memorial Day. The Health Department, the Records Division of the Sheriff’s Office and the County Landfill will also be closed that day.  Emergency services will be in normal operation.  

And, the next County Commission meeting will take place at 9 a.m. Tuesday, May 26, instead of that Monday. 

On March 18, Barton County Commission Chairman Kenny Schremmer signed a Declaration of a State of Local Public Health Emergency as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the commission ratified the 60-day declaration two days later. Monday morning, the commission extended the declaration for another 60 days.

“This is good for the entire county,” Emergency Risk Manager Amy Miller said. It covers all cities, townships and school districts, as well as the county.

The reason for the move is to open the door for disaster assistance through the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Kansas Division of Emergency Management, she said. The resources would cover personal protective equipment and other supplies. 

It also cuts through paperwork, she said. “It provides for a smoother, quicker flow of supplies.”

“The current COVID-19 local public health emergency allows commission’s to do 60-day disaster declarations instead of the normal, statutory, seven-day disaster declarations,” Miller said. The county is coming to the end of its first 60-day declaration so it needed to be continued for another 60 days, unless terminated earlier.

“By adopting this resolution, it allows us to continue to ask for PPE and other supplies from the Kansas Division Of Emergency Management, as well as allowing us to render other aid and assistance as asked for by local agencies and departments.”

“This isn’t really any significantly different than when we do a disaster declaration after a flood or a storm, or something like that?” said Commissioner Jennifer Schartz.

“No, just because of the current situation, it was allowed for us to do a 60-day declaration so now we don’t have to come in every week and do another week by week basis,” Miller said.

Commissioner Jim Daily asked if during that last 60 days, the county had received the emergency items Miller had requested.

“I received the items that I’ve asked for if they were available to receive,” Miller said. “There’s been a lot of demand through the Kansas Division Of Emergency Management and for supplies. And so they must ration it out to all the counties as it was requested.”

“Do we feel like we’ve gotten what we need?” Schartz said.

“I think everyone has been extremely judicious with their supplies and everyone’s trying to make them go as long as they can,” Miller said. “They of course go first to their suppliers. And they can’t get anything, then they request items through me.”

But, “no one has requested outlandish items, or an outlandish amount,” she said. “Everybody’s very understanding and willing to share back and forth, and make things go as long as they possibly can and use them to the best of their ability.”

Barton County Commission meeting at a glance

Here is a quick look at what the Barton County Commission did Monday morning:

• Approved extending the declaration of a state of local public health emergency due to COVID-19.

After approval by Chairman Kenny Schremmer on March 18, the commission ratified the declaration at a Special Meeting held March 20. The commission extended the declaration another 60 days unless terminated earlier. The extension would allow for the rendering of aid and assistance, Emergency Risk Manager Amy Miller said.

• Approved applying for Kansas Department of Transportation emergency funding for flood-damaged intersections south of Ellinwood.

• Heard a report on the county’s Economic Development Revolving Loan Fund and approved offering the funding as grants as well loans.

In an effort to assist Kansas businesses, the Kansas Department of Commerce has updated Community Development Block Grant funding guidelines, county Grant Coordinator Sue Cooper said. This includes a directive to local governing bodies with available Community Development Block Grant/Economic Development Revolving Loan Funds money to determine if available balances can be utilized as grant funds.

Barton County does have money that fall under this program.