In March 2020, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act was signed into federal law providing financial assistance to American families, workers, small businesses, as well as state and local governments. Hanover County received $18.8 million of Federal CARES Act funding to help navigate and respond to the pandemic, and the Board of Supervisors appropriated the funding to meet community needs. On March 10, the Board received a report summarizing how the money was spent.
Jacob Sumner, Director of Finance and Management Services, broke the contributions down into several major categories.
Town of Ashland
The Town of Ashland received 7.2% of the County’s funding, an amount equivalent to the town’s proportional share of Hanover’s population. That total came to $1.4 million.
Public Safety departments received over $4.5 million. Sumner said that total included two new ambulances which helped relieve pressure with the ambulance fleet while units are being decontaminated from transporting potential COVID patients. The County also was able to outfit Fire/EMS with equipment enabling firefighters to refill their oxygen tanks remotely and provided additional defibrillators for the department’s vehicle fleet, among other expenditures.
For the Sheriff’s Office, patrol cars were outfitted with additional partitions creating further separation and a physical barrier between detainees and patrol officers. The CARES Act funding also allowed the Sheriff to complete the rollout of the eCitation project. This project outfitted 130 patrol officers with technology designed to minimize exposure risk while issuing traffic citations, and eliminated the need for multiple employees to handle single pieces of paperwork.
Funds were also allocated for the Pamunkey Regional Jail. Video arraignment technology and additional fingerprint scanning equipment were added to promote social distancing, as well as laptops for Jail staff and wireless internet access points for their medical staff to conduct inmate health screenings within the inmate housing unit.
Hanover County Public Schools received over $8.4 million in CARES Act funding. The largest dollar investment for HCPS was its School Technology project. With these funds, the school system purchased and issued over 16,000 laptops to all high school students, as well as, elementary students in Kindergarten through fifth grades. This funding also supported technology for live streaming or virtual classrooms such as wireless projectors, web cams, voice amplifiers, monitors, headsets and document cameras. The Schools also purchase 660 mifi internet devices to help families connect to the School’s online content.
To facilitate in-person learning, the School system invested in health and safety measures including district-wide PPE supplies, additional cleaning supplies and cleaning machines, hand sanitizing stations, and plexiglass barriers and furniture to enhance social distancing. Additional mobile food carts, coolers and milk boxes were purchased to maintain distancing during lunch time and food delivery. HCPS also added five more schools buses to their fleet to transport students while maintaining the recommended social distancing.
The County invested approximately $2.3M in technology projects. These projects included implementing software to digitally submit applications and plans for Planning, Building Inspections and Public Works, as well as mobile data solutions and tablets for the appraisers in the Assessor’s Office. Digital signature software was installed to aid employees of the Community Services Board in their interaction with their clients.
The County also extended fiber service to several outlying County facilities, upgraded public wireless access at County buildings and parks, implemented software and applications to enhance employee and customer interactions, and installed video conferencing equipment. The County’s technology infrastructure was upgraded and its laptop inventory was expanded.
Nearly $800,000 in CARES Act funding was invested in Hanover’s small businesses and in families needing emergency assistance.
The Board sponsored the Small Business Resiliency Grant program, which helped support small businesses negatively affected by interruptions and mandated business closures due to the pandemic. The program distributed funds to 58 Hanover County businesses, impacting over 580 fulltime employees.
Hanover also partnered with the United Way of Greater Richmond and Petersburg to provide support for our community’s basic needs such as food insecurity or financial assistance for housing. United Way awarded $500,000 in CARES grant funding to 12 local non-profits. These funds helped serve nearly 2,700 clients.
Social distancing and safety measures
Throughout the pandemic, Hanover County Government continued to provide its essential functions and $1.4 million of CARES Act funding was used to address employee and customer well-being. Safety screens or sneeze guards were installed throughout County facilities and touchless fixtures were added to various buildings. The County also invested in a mobile personal protective equipment trailer operated by Parks and Recreation. For departmental use, this PPE resource is outside the protective equipment reserved for public safety needs.
Funds were also allocated for the Pamunkey Regional Library. These funds aided social distancing and safety measures including self-service kiosks, exterior lockers for library materials, staff PPE, sneeze guards and technology enhancements.
“These funds enabled the County to respond and respond effectively,” Sumner reported to the Board of Supervisors. “We were able to support our public safety professionals as they interact with citizens on a daily basis; gave the Schools tools to address educating our children, both in person and virtually; directly supported our most vulnerable citizens and our small business community; and helped the County to provide our employees a safe place to work as they continue providing the services expected of local government.”