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Brown County receives $3 million in COVID relief funds

NEW ULM — Brown County commissioners will consider approval of COVID-19 Business Relief Grant eligibility and program guidelines at their meeting Tuesday, July 28.

Brown County received $3,083,468 in Coronavirus Relief Funds. Of that allocation, federal guidelines included setting aside 10% of that amount to assist businesses adversely impacted by the Coronavirus.

The State took away that guideline when distributing money to government agencies; but it is still encouraged to do so.

According to the program, businesses eligible to apply include small businesses of 25 or fewer employees in Brown County that have been affected by COVID-19 stay-at-home orders.

Preference is given to businesses that have not received federal or state COVID-19 relief funds. Businesses that received the funds but have not received enough to meet their needs and can demonstrate additional need are encouraged to apply.

Brown County Economic Development Partners is willing and able to administer forgivable loans on its behalf. This is a very similar program that other rural counties created due to CARES Act funding.

Commissioners will also:

• Recognize employees meeting years of service 5-year benchmarks in 2019. Award recipients are probation agents Dave Munson and Jane Schmid, Safety Award; Probation Director Les Schultz and IT Network & Systems Administrator Brandon Wortz, Distinguished Service Award;

and Assessor’s Office employees Anne Grunert, Diane Dunn, Angie Gauert, Jim Heil, Sheena Hillesheim, Diane Rolloff and Cindy Marti, Commissioner Awards.

Retirees in 2019 recognized are Barbara Christenson, Charles Enter, Daryl Helget, LuAnn Macho, Mary Ann Wonn, Michael Mathiowetz, Theresa Schroeder and Tom Henderson.

• Consider a $24,047.33 CARES Act grant resolution and allow election administrator Jean Prochniak authority to execute the agreement and apply for additional funds as they become available.

Brown County is responsible for 20% of costs including health and safety costs, public outreach and social distancing for voting guidelines, increased absentee voting costs, training materials and polling place preparation and 25% of poll book purchases.

Prochniak reported many voters have opted to vote at home (with mail ballots) and processing absentee ballots, which were mailed July 15, is very time consuming.

• Authorizing the board chairman and county attorney to sign an agreement for services with the Rinke, Noonan law for for services rendered on drainage issues. Hourly rates vary from $80 an hour for legal technicians to $325 per hour for attorneys with more than seven years experience.

• Continuing Heartland Express free fares through August. Free fares were put in place to assist people needing transportation for essential items or who may be struggling financially due to wage losses and to reduce COVID exposure by eliminating hand tokens.

• Accept Corey and Julie Wilson’s County Ditch 44 improvement petition and appoint an engineer to examine the drainage system and create an improvement report. The petition includes a $10,000 cash bond certified check.

• Demotion of a house located at 412 Maple St. S.W., Sleepy Eye at a cost not to exceed $8,162, with invoice split 50-50 with the City of Sleepy Eye. The building has been cited with many safety infractions and is beyond repair according to the fire chief.

• Receive a COVID-19 update from Brown County Public Health Director Karen Moritz.

• The meeting begins at 9 a.m., July 28 in the Law Enforcement Training Center Training Room. WebEx access is available by calling Brown County Administration at 233-6700.

(Fritz Busch can be emailed at fbusch@nujournal.com).

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