BENTONVILLE – Benton County Justices of the Peace have a duty to do while on vacation.
Each justice of the peace walked out of the quorum court meeting on Dec. 16 with a binder overflowing with information about the candidates seeking a share of federal funding for the county’s US bailout.
Congress passed a $ 1.9 trillion economic stimulus bill to accelerate the nation’s recovery from the economic and health effects of the covid-19 pandemic. President Joe Biden signed the bill in March. The plan provides $ 350 billion in federal funds for qualifying state, local, territorial and tribal governments nationwide.
The county will receive $ 54 million in US bailout funding – $ 27 million this year and next.
The county has already contributed $ 1.8 million and earmarked an additional $ 3.9 million, County Comptroller Brenda Peacock said.
The county has received more than 60 requests for bailout money. Organizations were invited to apply if they could demonstrate that their activities supported the public health response, or if they had suffered economic damage from the pandemic and the money would meet that damage.
Applicants run the gamut from cities to civic organizations. The applicants’ monetary demands range from thousands to millions of dollars.
Susan Koehler, director of Benton County Fair, said the app was easy to access and straightforward. The Benton County Fair Association is asking $ 25,000 to compensate for losses caused by the pandemic. Koehler also noted on the request that the fair’s association will seek funding from the Arkansas Poultry Commission.
“We hope to point out to the group reviewing grant applications that our event / earned income and reduced fair fundraising loss in 2021 cannot be easily replicated,” she said. In addition, the Benton County Fairgrounds serve many of the needs of underserved people in Northwest Arkansas at discounted rates, if not free, including 4-H and Sharing and Caring. that our non-profit status and our community benefits-driven mission are eligible for US bailout support. “
The county’s US bailout committee, made up of all 15 justices of the peace, will ask the groups to attend in person. Candidates will have 15 minutes each. The first meeting will be held from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on January 11 in the college courtroom on the third floor of the County Administration Building, 215 E. Central Ave. A meeting of the finance committee will follow. Five more meetings with candidates are scheduled for January.
Joseph Bollinger, a justice of the peace for Bella Vista, said he has had the opportunity to review all entities requesting funds and plans to thoroughly review the details of each request before the first meeting.
“There are so many wonderful organizations in Benton County, and I wish we could help them all,” he said. “My plan for the process is to hear each presentation and score them on their individual merits and approach each request with an open mind.”
Bollinger previously introduced a small business grant program using the county’s CARES law funds, but that idea did not find its way into the quorum court. The federal law on aid, relief and economic security against coronaviruses was promulgated on March 27. There was $ 150 billion for states, local governments, tribes and territories to respond to, prevent and prepare for covid-19, County Judge Barry Moehring said in March.
“I think this is a second opportunity for the quorum tribunal to be able to help the organizations that make Benton County great,” he said.