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Thursday
August 13th, 2020

county commission cares moneyJeff Stevens and Alexandria Harvey of iParametrics discuss what the consulting firm has been doing to help Seward County leaders with the distribution of $6.4 million in funds from the State of Kansas through the CARES Act. L&T photo/Robert PierceROBERT PIERCE • Leader & Times

 

In June, Seward County was awarded $6.4 million in funding from the State of Kansas under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security, or CARES, Act’s Coronavirus Relief Fund.

In July, county officials put out an online survey for input from business owners and community members to help the commission target the use of the funds. 

Also in July, the consulting firm iParametrics was hired by the commission to assist the county with regards to distributing the money.  County leaders have been meeting with officials from the firm recently, including several meetings this week, and Monday, the commission got an update from some of those meetings.

iParametrics Vice President of Emergency Management Jeff Stevens said company leaders had multiple sessions Monday with commissioners, and he believes some progress has been made from those sessions, as well as others.

“What we’ve been able to do throughout the sessions is really understand what the needs are in the community and find ways to not only close the gaps we identified but also find ways to transform and push us forward,” he said. “In this morning’s session, we had a lot of local leaders. We talked about some of the real capabilities of the area, how we’re going to use FEMA’s dollars to make sure we don’t lose out on dollars.”

Stevens then talked about an $80,000 donation the county got from National Beef to help with COVID relief, calling that donation a double benefit.

“Not only do you get the hard cash, but because that donation was designed to help assist with COVID response, that is actually eligible to be matched under the FEMA grant as well to cover your 25 percent,” he said. “In essence, they give you really a double grant there. You have $320,000  worth of expenses, but in the county, you get the full value of that $80,000 donation. That’s really a great thing.”

iParametrics Disaster Recovery Program Manager Alexandria Harvey said the firm likewise met with representatives from 15 non-profits Monday, as well as those from the City of Liberal, Seward County and the City of Kismet.

“It was a really good meeting where we discussed some of the challenges they face during this time in serving the people they serve and ideas for programs and ways we can not only make them whole and the community whole but also address some of the other issues,” she said. 

Harvey said survey results were also discussed, and she added that survey seemed to missing much in the way of input from underserved communities, which she said would help identify what has been the effect of COVID on racial minority groups. 

“We came up with some solutions,” she said. “I met with different organizations.”

Stevens said community participation is a great strength in Seward County and something which will be highlighted in the firm’s final report.

“We want to identify more opportunity we have funding for so we show the state we’re in good position to spend it,” he said. “We exhaustively reached out to the community to make sure they’re involved and engaged throughout this entire process. We’re closing those short-term gaps, and we’re making that long-term change.” 

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