More than six months ago, when the Coronavirus Aid, Relief & Economic Stimulus (C.A.R.E.S.) Act assistance of $4.6 million was announced for Webster County, courtesy of the federal government, initial estimates were that Seymour would receive about $246,000 in funding.
As of last Thursday, that total was twice that amount at $497,414.67, according to Terry Penner, C.A.R.E.S. Act administrator for the city of Seymour.
Penner said that since she took on her role this spring, she’s processed 47 applications, including two more just last week.
“There are a few still working on their first-time filing,” she explained.
“There also are a few working to reach claims that meet the $7,500 cap.”
Members of the Seymour Board of Aldermen told Penner they were amazed by her work on behalf of the city and, most notably, its businesses, churches and organizations.
“You’re doing a great job, and I can’t tell you how many people I’ve heard say that,” said South Ward Alderman Nadine Crisp, who was presiding over last Thursday’s regular meeting of the aldermen as the mayor pro tem due to the absence of Mayor Richard Vinson, who was in quarantine, following COVID-19 guidelines after being exposed to the virus. “We couldn’t have picked a better person for this job, and there are so many here in Seymour who wouldn’t have been helped if not for you staying at it so hard.”
Penner’s total didn’t include a since-approved request by the city for nearly $200,000.
More on that substantial award will appear in next week’s newspaper.
North Ward Alderman William Pogue said Penner should be commended for her efforts.
“Every time we get one of your reports, my mind again is blown,” Pogue said.
“I just can’t believe how you’ve hit the streets and found every single working person, every business, every church and every organization out there that qualifies for this help. One of these days, it will hit folks here what you’ve done for this town. I see it now. It’s made a difference.”
Penner remains on duty for the city in her capacity as the C.A.R.E.S. Act administrator.
The aldermen also provided guidance on that topic at Thursday’s meeting.
“I feel your employment with us needs to continue until the end of the year,” South Ward Alderman Dan Wehmer told Penner. “After that, there likely will be a new round of this federal help, and I can’t see the model for distributing the money changing. If so, you’re our expert.
“Terry, no one in the county knows more about how this program works than you do.”
The other three aldermen — Crisp, Pogue and North Ward Alderman Jim Ashley — agreed.
“I’ve personally seen how you help businesses that qualify for the federal help,” Wehmer said. “I’m one who received it. So did Jim (Ashley). All around the square, I’ve seen how this money has fed the economy in a small town, just like how I think it was intended to do.”
“I’m with Dan on this,” Pogue said. “You need to stay on with us until this deal runs out at the end of the year, then we need to see what’s next.
“It’s the first time I can remember, quite frankly, that Seymour got its fair share of any type of state or federal money. Our people and our community have benefitted.”
Penner maintains 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. office hours every Monday at Seymour City Hall.
She also is available to help businesses, churches and organizations throughout the week by appointment.
Her cell number is 417-425-9589.
“People who need to see me or talk to me or even just learn more about the C.A.R.E.S. Act and what does or doesn’t qualify can call my cell,” Penner said.
“If I don’t pick up, I’m likely with someone. Just leave a message, and I’ll return the call promptly.”