County commissioners accept $1.68 million grant, apply for another

Medina County is receiving approximately $1.68 million through the TDEM CARES Cares Act Coronavirus Relief Fund after county commissioners voted to accept the grant’s terms during the commissioners court meeting last Thursday, May 21.

Commissioners also approved applying for the 2020 Help America Vote Act (HAVA) Cares Act sub-grant.

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The funds are based on $55.00 per each of the 30,552 county residents who do not live within any of its cities.

Twenty percent of that figure, or $336,072, will be disbursed to the county upfront, while the remainder will be reimbursed.

The money was allocated via the federal government’s Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, with Texas receiving approximately $11.24 billion. The 18 Texas counties with populations of 500,000 or higher received funds directly from the US Treasury, while the Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM) is distributing money to the remaining counties.

There are six categories of eligible expenditures: medical expenses; public health expenses; payroll expenses for public safety, public health, health care, human services, and similar employees; expenses of actions to comply with COVID-19 public health measures; expenses associated with the provision of economic support in connection with COVID-19; and any other COVID-19 – related expenses.

County Judge Chris Schuchart said he thought the funds could be used to purchase a $200,000 x-ray body scanner for the Medina County Jail to eliminate pat down searches.

“We think we can do it with that money,” Schuchart said. “Because it is COVID; you don’t have to touch somebody, it’s for the safety of the deputies and jailers that we can use it for, so we’re looking into that as being one of the ways we can really hit a home run for the county.”

HAVA CARES Act sub-grant

Elections Judge Lupe Torres said money received from this grant would go towards preparing for elections held amidst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Early voting for the July 14 runoff elections begin on June 29 and runs through July 6. Both early voting and Election Day voting will be held at the elections office in Hondo as well as the county annex buildings in Devine and Castroville.

Torres said that voting in Devine for the November election may be moved to the George S. Woods Community Center because it offers more space.

“In the smaller elections it works pretty good, but for November, even in the March primary, it takes up a lot of room,” Torres said. “And now with all the social distancing, we’re going to need that extra room to kind of spread out the [voting] machines.”

Use of the community center in contingent on approval from the Devine City Council.

By Marly Davis

Staff Writer

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