Roughly two weeks ago, the S.O.S. signal was sent by the city of Seymour to the Webster County Commission.
Except this S.O.S. actually should have had the acronym S.O.C.M.
Save Our Cares Money.
Earlier this spring, Webster County received $4.6 million in federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief & Economic Stimulus (C.A.R.E.S.) Act funding to be distributed to businesses, non-profit organizations and even individuals as part of an overall national relief package of more than $2 trillion, appropriated in response to the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic.
Hit with the burden of distributing just over $4.6 million to our county of nearly 40,000 people, Webster County officials did what many other counties did — they hired a professional. As is the case with most professionals today, this one was a lawyer. His answer was an 18-page application for C.A.R.E.S. Act funds that read like the “Gettysburg Address.”
As Terry Penner, the C.A.R.E.S. Act administrator for the city of Seymour, said, “We’ll be lucky to give out a fraction of our funding under these guidelines.”
She was spot on.
That’s when the aforementioned signal was sent to command central in Marshfield. County officials got the message.
Loud and clear.
Last week, County Clerk Stan Whitehurst let the county’s hired gun know that Webster County no longer needed the C.A.R.E.S. Act’s version of Wyatt Earp. Instead, our county decided to relaunch its C.A.R.E.S. Act program.
“Based upon the information gleaned from last week’s conference call, I believe we are comfortable with using the Lafayette County model,” Whitehurst wrote to its consultant.
We’re told the consultant wasn’t thrilled by the news.
But we are.
So should you.
Webster County’s new application isn’t even two full pages; it’s 1-1/2 pages, to be exact. It’s easy to read, easy to fill out and should be easy to determine if funding is available.
To that end, Penner now has a job to do.
From 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. every Monday, she’s setting up at Seymour City Hall in council chambers, ready to hand out applications, help people fi ll them out and even make office calls, if needed. She will compile the applications, get them to Marshfield, then hopefully the county commission will quickly make a decision on eligibility and immediately send a check back to the cities from where the claims came.
In Lafayette County, claims have been awarded since early May. There have been hundreds of grant recipients, with awards ranging from a few hundred dollars to $33,000.
We’re optimistic the same smooth process will occur here, courtesy of our elected county officials, who once told about a problem quickly remedied it.
For that, we tip out collective caps to Whitehurst, County Treasurer Todd Hungerford and the three commissioners — Dale Fraker, Paul Ipock and Randy Owens.
Another hat tip goes to Penner and Seymour City Administrator Hillary Gintz for pressing the issue with the county and fighting for our businesses and community.
Good government isn’t common today.
However, it’s alive and well in Webster County, both in the city of Seymour and in the halls of our county courthouse.
For that, feel blessed, county residents.
Elected officials do care here.