By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Newton County: Board of Commissioners OKs hired help for seniors seeking ARPA grants
Newton County BOC
The Newton County Board of Commissioners meet at the Historic Courthouse in Covington. - photo by Tom Spigolon

COVINGTON, Ga. — The Newton County Board of Commissioners unanimously passed a motion to allow the county to hire at least two part-time individuals to provide assistance to seniors who need to use computers to apply for American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding.

The board approved it 4-0 (Commissioner Ronnie Cowan was absent) during the April 4 Board meeting, providing a solution to an issue many of the county’s senior residents have been frustrated about since ARPA funding and all its application processes came into play. 

According to attorney Kennedy Shannon, director of Long-Term Community Recovery for iParametrics, the part-time staffers would come from a partnership with Laura Bertram, executive director of Newton Family Connection, and they’d work three days a week with 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. shifts at $20 per hour. They would locate themselves at both the Floyd Street library and Porter Memorial Library adjacent to Denny Dobbs Park. 

The staffing addition is a markedly important development, given some of the ARPA-funded programs such as the low income and senior home grant repair and small business assistance grant program set to launch in the county over the next several months. 

Though Shannon made it clear that these new assistants would be able to provide computer help, particularly for senior citizens for all of the county’s ARPA-funded programs, Shannon said she knows the new part time workers will be heavily counted on for the senior home repair program. 

“Once we do senior home repair, that’s really going to be a big one, because a lot of our seniors just aren’t very good with technology, and having a place to go and actually get assistance with applying will be a big help for them.” 

Both Chairman Marcello Banes and Commissioner J.C. Henderson suggested that it may be a good idea to provide a third location with Henderson suggesting the Historic Courthouse or the nearby county Administration Building would be good tertiary locations “to make it convenient for our citizens,” Henderson added. 

Currently, there are computers in place at the aforementioned libraries, but Shannon clarified that it was just computer access only and not someone physically being there.

“But if we partner with Laura and her group, there will be someone there to physically assist them during those hours,” Shannon said. 

Shannon said the projected launch date to apply for the senior home repair program is May 15 and June 1, with the small business assistance program roughly being slated to launch between June 15 and July 1. 

“We want to make sure we’re not launching these programs at the same time,” Shannon said. 

She also added that training would be provided for the new part-time employees, and a dedicated customer service line will be provided to help with any on-site issues with uploading applications. 

Commissioner Stan Edwards provided the motion and Commissioner Demond Mason seconded.