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Wright County News

Posted on: June 24, 2020

Sheriff's Office Receives $39,000 Grant To Help Pay COVID-19 Related Expenses

In response to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, there are several grant programs that have emerged to assist in the effort to help pay the staggering costs associated with combatting the virus.

The Wright County Jail and Sheriff’s Office announced that they have been awarded a grant for more than $39,000 from U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Justice Programs.

Sheriff’s Office Business Manager Shawna Athman explained that there are specific purposes for the grant – helping pay for items that the jail and Sheriff’s Office has been forced to unexpectedly purchase over the last three months.

“They offered us an opportunity to write a grant for $39,098 in response to coronavirus,” Athman said. “The budget for this grant is specifically to address personal protective equipment (PPE) needs of the jail and the Sheriff’s Office. Obviously, while we had some stock on hand, but we didn’t have on hand what we would need if the coronavirus – or when the coronavirus – really breaks out in our area.”

The Sheriff’s Office and jail staff have another option for how to use the grant funds. In the event a significant number of employees contract COVID-19 and create staff shortages that require paying overtime, it is also covered under the grant.

“This will also allow for (funding) if I am back-filling shifts on an overtime basis,” Athman said. “Let’s say I have a whole team of deputies that all contract coronavirus and are out. I can use this grant to cover the back-fill pay of who I have to bring in.”

There is no question that the grant will be fully expended, because the Sheriff’s Office has incurred two-thirds of the grant amount on PPE alone. The only question is whether other grant funds will become available and the Sheriff’s Office will decide which grant funds to expend on a specific funding mechanism.

“This grant has a two-year time period,” Athman said. “To put that in perspective, we have already purchased about $25,000 worth of PPE this year. There will be some strategic discussion on whether we take reimbursement this year, next year or the following year.”

The Wright County Board unanimously approved acceptance of the grant, with Board Chair Christine Husom saying that there will likely be plenty of options available to use the grant funds before COVID-19 is a thing of the past.

“It’s great to have, this because you can go through $39,000 pretty quickly,” Husom said.

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