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Commissioners to consider grant program that would benefit local restaurants

SALISBURY — The Rowan County Board of Commissioners on Monday will consider approving a grant program that would help local restaurants impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The proposed grant program would use CARES Act funding to benefit restaurants with 26 or more employees, a demographic that wasn’t eligible to receive funding from the county’s small business grant program in December.

“When the grant administrators looked at it, some restaurants were excluded because they had more than 26 employees,” County Manager Aaron Church said. “I believe a lot of those employees were part-time.”

The county would allocate $250,000 in funds for this program, $25,000 of which would be paid to McGill Associates for administering the program. McGill Associates was responsible for administering the previous grant program.

The funding for the restaurant grant program would be distributed on a first-come, first-serve basis to eligible restaurants that submit a completed application and follow all the written directions on the application. Each restaurant would be eligible to receive a $5,000 grant. Only locally-owned restaurants would be eligible.

Applications would be accepted online and in person on the second floor of the Rowan County Administration building starting March 1 at noon through April 15 at 5 p.m. Each application would be electronically or manually time stamped.

Compared to the original small business grant program, the restaurant grant program would be less rushed, Church said. The federal government previously required the county to distribute CARES Act funds before the new year, but the deadline has since been extended until 2022.

As the county rushed to create and facilitate the small business grant program in December, it had to make corrections and adjustments along the way. Church said that he foresees this version of the program going more smoothly.

“The applicants are going to have more time and we’re going to have more time,” Church said.

The full grant requirements will be discussed and considered by commissioners during the meeting.

The meeting will be at 6 p.m. Monday. People can tune in via digital meeting software Zoom with the link bit.ly/rowanboc0215 and the password 021521.

Also on the meeting agenda:

  • Commissioners will again discuss a change to the Rowan County Animal Control Ordinance that would make it unlawful to intentionally feed whole large animal carcasses to domesticated animals in public view. Commissioners held a public hearing regarding the proposed change at a meeting on Jan. 19 and were poised to vote on the matter when it was brought to their attention that all five commissioners needed to be present to vote on an ordinance change. Commissioner Mike Caskey was absent from the meeting while away on a work trip. Caskey is a police officer in Charlotte and serves in the National Guard. The proposed change was prompted after Commissioner Craig Pierce and Animal Services Director Bob Pendergrass received complaints from citizens about deer carcasses being fed to dogs in the front yard of a residence. Animal Services was unable to take action on the complaint because no rule existed outlawing the activity. That could change if commissioners decide to pass the new ordinance.
  • Commissioners will receive an update from OpenBroadband about the company’s efforts to expand fixed wireless broadband services in more rural parts of the county. The county has utilized up to $200,000 in CARES Act funding to incentivize OpenBroadband’s expansion.
  • Public Health Director Nina Oliver will deliver a presentation to commissioners about the progress that the Health Department has made in distributing vaccinations and will detail the department’s future plans to distribute more vaccines. After distributing vaccines on a first-come, first-serve basis, the county switched to an appointment method several weeks ago.
  • Commissioners will consider scheduling a public hearing for March 15 to receive public input regarding the Wildlife Resources Commission’s recommendations for buoy placement that will signify a no-wake zone around the Tamarac Marina. In August, commissioners requested an investigation by the WRC to determine whether statutory authority exists for the establishment of the no-wake zone. The no-wake zone was initially requested by resident Michael Barron. The WRC completed its assessment and determined that the no-wake zone is warranted, but the area is smaller than Barron originally wanted. Barron has agreed to pay for the purchase, installation and maintenance of the buoys.
  • Commissioners will receive a report from Martin Starnes & Associates, CPAs, P.A on the audit of the county’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report for the 2020 fiscal year that ended June 30.

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