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Supervisors address COVID issues

By WILLIAM PAINE

william.paine@southwesttimes.com

Several citizens attended this week’s meeting of the Pulaski County Board of Supervisors. For the past few months attendance has been exceptionally light, presumably due to fears relating to the coronavirus.

For the first time ever, all those who were in attendance at the supervisors meeting were required to wear a mask.

Two public hearings were scheduled for Monday’s meeting and despite the turnout, no citizens were inclined to voice their opinions on either matter.

The first public hearing dealt with the CARES Act Funding in response to COVID-19. This federal funding added nearly $3 million to the county’s budget and according to state code, whenever there is an adjustment of more than 1% of the original budget, a public hearing is required.

More than a million dollars of the CARES Act Funding will go towards County Investments in Response to COVID-19. According to Pulaski County Administrator Jonathan Sweet, this money will be used to ready the county’s volunteer fire departments for a potential viral outbreak in the future. Some of this money will be used to make Pulaski’s Central Gym a viable shelter in case of emergency. A portion of these funds will also be used to support technological upgrades, especially involving emergency service communications.

Approximately $385,000 of CARES Act Funding will be spent on County Response and Reimbursements in response to COVID-19. This money will be used to pay for COVID related unemployment benefits, emergency sick leave and overtime hours. County reimbursements will also go towards the hiring of additional custodians needed for additional cleaning and hazard pay for sanitation employees.

The amount of $410,000 has been allocated for local business investments. Of that, $300,000 will be distributed to small businesses in the county with 25 employees or less. Grants ranging from $1,000 to $5,000 will be given on a first come first served basis but businesses applying for these monies must have all county taxes and fees paid up. It’s estimated that 60 businesses in the county will receive some of these monies. Applications for these business grants will be accepted starting Monday Aug. 3.

The towns of Pulaski and Dublin will together receive $623,725 for the purpose of reinvesting in their respective towns as their leaders see fit. Each town will receive approximately the same per capita with Pulaski receiving more as its population is greater.

“We’re all in this together … we’re going to get through this together and our towns are part of that,” said County Administrator Jonathan Sweet. “So, we think it’s prudent and responsible to assist our towns in making it through this shutdown.”

Nearly half a million dollars will be allocated to Community Investments in response to COVID-19. Some of these funds will go to bolster the county’s certified childcare centers to potentially expand their facilities. Additional funds will go to non profit organizations that provide activities for children when they are out of school due to shutdowns related to the pandemic.

A second public hearing was held to enable the county to impose a $20 fee as part of the cost for each criminal or traffic case in Pulaski County. A person convicted in General District, Circuit or Juvenile courts will now be charged a fee of $20. In the past, the fee was $10.

Sheriff Worrell asked for the increase in order to pay for the security requirements at the county courthouse and the ordinance passed unanimously.

The Pulaski County Board of Supervisors passed several resolutions in support of county Smart Scale applications for various road improvements. According to the VDOT website, “Smart Scale is about investing limited tax dollars in the right projects that meet the most crucial transportation needs in Virginia.”

The county has made requests for Smart Scale road improvements in the past with limited success but Chairman of the Board Joe Guthrie expressed optimism about receiving state funds for at least some of the following primary road improvements.

The first of these road improvements involves installing a roundabout at the intersection of Cougar Trail and Newbern Road. Traffic often gets backed up on Cougar Trail especially when school is in session. In addition, Volvo is now building a new manufacturing plant near that same intersection and this will undoubtedly increase traffic volumes. Roundabouts are popular in the northeast United States, as well as in Europe and serve to reroute traffic safely without the use of a traffic light.

The other proposed Smart Scale road projects were focused on improvements on Route 11 in Fairlawn.

The supervisors requested that two additional turn lanes be added at the intersection of Route 11 and Route 114. They also requested that VDOT approve the extension of a sidewalk on the northbound side of Route 11 in this same area.

Another Smart Scale road resolution asked for an additional turn lane be placed at the entrance of Kroger’s/Rural King to alleviate traffic congestion that often occurs there.

The last Smart Scale request involved making the intersection of Warden Court and Route 11 more safe. This was the site of a motor cycle fatality some years ago.

All of these requests are for funding from VDOT in fiscal year 2022-2023.

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