The Rice County Board of Commissioners today awarded nearly a quarter of a million dollars in CARES Act funds to provide assistance to some local organizations.  Social Service Director Mark Shaw asked Commissioners to provide $9,079.67 for the Society of St. Vincent DePaul to serve more people following the closure of the Faribault Area Food Shelf last May.

"They are in need of additional resources to pay for two refrigerators and a freezer." Shaw pointed out, adding, "They serve many people in our community to make sure their nutritional food requirements are met.  This is with a volunteer work crew that show up and diligently take care of the less fortunate members of our community."

The County Board unanimously approved the request along with some others.  CARES Act funding in the amount of $120,000 was approved for the Rice County Activity Center in Faribault.

Shaw said, "Since 1963 they've been meeting the employment, social and recreational need currently of 78 developmentally disabled Rice County citizens.  As of March they were forced to shut their doors.  They could no longer provide services. Yet at the same time they had a fleet of vehicles and mortgage to pay.  They kept a bare bones staff available to keep the operation going to the extent possible."

Shaw said about the Activity Center, "It is vitally important to our disabled population."

The same $120,000 figure was approved in the form of a grant to EPIC Enterprises.

Shaw pointed out, "They too had considerable fixed costs that they needed to continue to meet and their revenue was non-existent dating back to March.  In September they were able to open their doors at a greatly reduced rate.  But they too stand in a precarious position that this resurgence of COVID could force their door closure at any time."  They have also provided services to disabled populations since 1976.

Commissioner Galen Malecha commented, "We as a society have to look out for the vulnerable people of our county.   We as a county, this is one way we can help them.  Because what would we do if these activity centers closed?  What would we do if Laura Baker Services closed?  There again another huge hole would be opened and how would we fill that?  So it's nice to see the CARES Act funding can go toward these organizations to keep them.  I'm happy that we're doing this."

The County Board of Commissioners also unanimously approved spending $2,500 to become a 2021 member of the Rural Broadband Coalition which promotes better broadband services to rural Minnesota.