Here are three highlights from Tuesday's Harvey County Commission meeting, which touched on a couple of significant projects in the works:
1) Grant support on the way
Safehope Executive Director Jan Jones gave an update on grant assistance that was requested for a resiliency project in the aftermath of the mass shooting that took place in the Harvey County community almost exactly two years ago.
While 2018 has started to bring funds in from a Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) grant, Jones noted the county has also received approval for funds from the Anti-terrorism Emergency Assistance Program (AEAP). Along with the counseling and support services this will help provide in the recovery process, it will also allow for the addition of five more employees to help provide those services locally.
"The immediate need is for the response, the interventions and the support we're needing right now," Jones said. "I see this as what could be, for me, identified as a turning point."
Questions were raised by the commissioners regarding why it has taken so long to get the funding, with Jones noting it can take time for the state to process with all the other requests it is receiving, but of more concern was what happens if said funding were to go away after these local measures have been enacted.
"My big concern is, if this grant money dries up, are we going to retain these five employees," said commission chair Randy Hague.
Even if that is the case, both Jones and County Administrator Anthony Swartzendruber pointed out how much good could potentially by done through the additional services provided in the span of one year. Jones also pointed out that multiple agencies are working together on a budget for use of this grant funding to address resiliency and maintain those services.
Due to that, Jones said the county is off to a good start in addressing the funding potential and she noted she will come back before the commission with a more fleshed-out plan in March.
2) Making a deposit at the bank
Erosion of the bank of the Little Arkansas River through a stretch of West Park was a concern commissioners had Road and Bridge Superintendent Jim Meier look into by seeking out a land survey in October 2017.
Meier brought the results of that survey before the commission on Tuesday — along with a plan to help build that stretch of the channel back up by hauling and placing 2,255 tons of protection stone. The work could be expedited through the use of a contractor, while one member of the Road and Bridge department would operate the excavator to place the material.
In seeking out the survey, Meier has also contacted some companies about costs for hauling the stone. While commissioners questioned if moving the nearby road would be an option rather than building up the embankment, Meier noted that would not eliminate the threat of natural erosion by the river. The commission approved the project and for Meier to proceed in seeking the proper permits.
3) (Nearly) fully operational
In the wake of a cyberattack attack on Harvey County, Swartzendruber continued to keep the commission abreast of the situation. While the attack limited services the past two weeks, the county offices remained operational and offering all assistance possible to the public.
Now, while Swartzendruber said it will take time to fully restore the network infrastructure, things are starting to return to normal as of Monday morning as staff/consultants continue to work on the computer systems.