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Health Department to see upgrades
Federal COVID grant funding projects
health department

Barton County will utilize a portion of $228,000 in federal COVID-19 relief grant funds to bring security and technology upgrades to the Health Department. The County Commission Monday morning approved bids for three separate projects.

The county applied for the Epidemiology and Laboratory Capacity (ELC) COVID-19 Expanded Infrastructure Grant. Part of this grant included the improvements, said Information Technology Director Dereck Hollingshead.

In all cases, commissioners approved proposals from NexTech which has offices in Great Bend. With each, NexTech was the second-lowest bid, missing the mark by no more than 6%.

“To keep this local, this is well within reason for me,” District 3 Commissioner Shawn Hutchinson said. 

The IT Department, utilizing the national Vendor Registry network, accepted bids through April 27 for the trio of projects.  This  system has increased the number of bids the county receives, but some of these come unknown companies, District 5 Commissioner Jennifer Schartz said. “I concur with Shawn, that when we can work with somebody who we know is a really good team player, we should do that.”

That becomes dicey with larger projects. A difference of a few percentage points on a $700,000 bridges comes to a lot of money, she said.

Approved were:

• First were surveillance cameras for the exterior of the Health Department building at 1300 Kansas Ave. in Great Bend. The commission OKed the NexTech bid of $3,763.86.

• Second was for a secure card-access door.

Utilizing the same procedure as for the cameras, this includes equipment, power supplies, wire and accessories.

Approved was a bid from NexTech for $12,164.37.

• Lastly was power and network redundancy equipment.

Again, tapping the COVID relief grant funds, the commission approved a proposal from NexTech for $8,968.63.

As part of the CARES Act and Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act supplements, the ELC awarded approximately $11 billion in 2020 to help address the domestic response to COVID-19. To provide additional support to communities, $19.11 billion from the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021 provides to ELC recipients. 

These additional resources are intended to “prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus” by supporting testing, case investigation and contact tracing, surveillance, containment, and mitigation.