County to receive $9.5M in additional Covid funds

Beth Welbers
Geneseo Republic
Henry County Courthouse

The Henry County Board met Thursday March 18, as a mix of in person and Zoom.

Kelli Parsons, head of the Finance Committee talked about a recent notification the County received. Sometime in May,the county will receive the first installment of $9.5M in Covid relief funds. The second installment should be received one year later. The County has 3 years to distribute the funds from the date of the first installment's receipt. This is part of the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan that was passed earlier this year. These funds are GOING directly to the individual counties, and they are entrusted with distributing them as they see fit, within set guidelines.

Board member Ray Elliot suggested property tax relief to the residents of the County. County Administrator Erin Knackstadt noted that such a move may create a disparity between landowners of the county, and an additional problem with the wind turbines that are on the tax roles. “ We need something fair and equitable for all the residents.”

Finance Chairwoman, Kelli Parsons stated that “We have many months to figure this out.” The invitation went out to the Board to attend the Finance Committee's next meeting on April 15, to share ideas on how this windfall could be best used for the residents of the County. “Conversations will be useful on this topic.”

The Henry County Health Department director Duane Stevens gave a short program on the Health Department's recent expansion. They will be expanding their health care offerings soon to include behavioral sciences. They currently have a counselor on staff, with a behavioral health practitioner starting sometime in April. Currently they are looking to hire a licensed clinical social worker. Three veteran Health Department administrators will be retiring in the coming months.

Thanks from the Board was given to Black Hawk East for allowing the Health Department to team with them, using the campus for drive through vaccinations. At this time, more than 18,000 shots have been given, with 11,294 first doses, and 7024 fully vaccinated residents.

States Attorney Cathy Runty stated that 436 cases were closed last month.

The Board approved the final County Relief Loan Program disbursals. This is the last of the funds that the County received under the CARES program. The following businesses received low interest loans to help affected operations.

Keller's Pit received a loan to help them move into the former American Legion building in Cambridge, creating a permanent location. The food truck will still be in operation, but this will make Keller's Pit a year round eating establishment.

Special Kneads Bakery in Galva received a loan to upgrade the gas lines for a new oven which is being installed, equipment repairs, and expansion of meal prep equipment.

Made for More Fitness Apparel received a loan for the purpose of transitioning from the home based location they moved to after Covid mitigations began, back to a Geneseo storefront.

Anderson Family Coffee in Galva received a loan for the purpose of moving to a larger facility in the former Opera House, where better social distancing can occur.

Maria's Pizza in Colona received a loan in order to retain employees, and for other building repairs.

The five loans amounted to $102,600.