The Pocahontas County Commission should be ashamed of itself for its shabby and disrespectful treatment of Laura Young, Executive Director of the Family Resource Network, at the October 19 county commission meeting. Ms. Young was given the bum’s rush for having the temerity to ask for a portion of the county’s share of federal money from the American Rescue Plan, which was enacted last Spring.
Under the rules for spending the $1.4 million entrusted to the care of the county commission, nonprofit organizations which suffered a loss of revenue due to the COVID pandemic are eligible for reimbursement from federal funds. In the months before the general shutdown in March 2020, the FRN had been supporting the Department of Health and Human Resources on a fee-for-service basis to help residents apply for benefits or programs operated by DHHR. The shutdown caused the FRN to lose an estimated $200,000 in reimbursable fees.
The commissioners apparently were unaware of the list of permissible purposes for which the ARP funds could be allocated, so they checked with Senator Manchin’s office. The answer was that the FRN’s lost revenue was a qualified purpose to spend ARP funds. But, instead of admitting that Ms. Young’s request was something they would honor as a public good, the commissioners instead said they didn’t want to spend ARP funds on the FRN – and suggested that Ms. Young seek reimbursement from the State’s share of ARP funds – which is not allowed.
The county commission owes Ms. Young an apology – and it owes the FRN $200,000.