A continued look into using national funds was discussed by Bee County commissioners this past week, with talks ramping up on how to use awards from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.

At the commissioners court meeting Sept. 27, Pct. 2 Commissioner Dennis DeWitt asserted that ARP-related projects be put on the court’s agenda for each general session. As of Sept. 27, there is no formal plan of action between the county and ARP contractor Grantworks, with a meeting due later in the week to put wheels in motion on projects.

In total, the county will receive $6,315,781 through the act. They received half of that amount earlier this year. 

One of the county’s main purposes with the funding will potentially be a “lump sum” in extra pay for county employees due to stress and extra hours worked during the COVID-19 pandemic. A more tangible plan broached in earlier court meetings was a new building for Beeville’s Emergency Management Services, in order to house EMS equipment and COVID-19 vaccine supplies.

“Looking at these, what we asked (Grantworks) to do was look at this list before we work to move forward.”

The two sides will need to discuss feasibility of any physical projects, as any ARP-related endeavors must be completed by Dec. 2024.

County Judge Trace Morrill agreed with putting the ARP-related projects on future agendas, stating his excitement to serve the county with the national funding.

“I know everybody’s put a lot of time and effort into this, and I really look forward to jumping into this,” Morrill said.

The commissioners also approved the employment of several new county workers. Henrietta Johnson was hired as a full-time administrative secretary for community affairs, at an annual salary of $27,000. William Barton was brought on as a full-time sergeant of investigation for the Bee County Sheriff’s Office, commanding a $42,766 salary. Both Johnny Miles and Kelly Rodriguez were hired as full-time jailers at salaries of $30,116.

The court also accepted the resignation of Oscar Rodriguez, Fred Dominguez, Jesse Estrada, Sidney Hadwin, Joseph Nemec, Gaby Puente, Joseph Ramirez and John Rodriguez.

•tleffler@mysoutex.com•

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