CARES Act cuts two ways

RUTLEDGE – The federal CARES Act played a role in two financial issues before Grainger County Commission Monday night. The act passed by Congress earlier this year provides, among other things, relief to state and local governments affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. On Monday, it applied to one request, but not the other.

The commission approved a request from Sheriff James Harville for up to $200,000 to purchase four new vehicles. He said he hopes he won’t need the entire amount. Harville said the funds would come from those provided to the county from the CARES Act.

Director of Schools Dr. James Atkins told the commission he will soon be asking for between $600,000 and $800,000 to pay overtime to some teachers. He said those teachers report to their schools thirty minutes early every morning to attend to students who have arrived before classes begin.

He said it is necessitated by COVID-19 guidelines that require social distancing. They are charged with taking students’ temperatures and getting them to their classrooms.

He said the money will need to come from the district’s reserve fund because it is not covered by the CARES Act.

“This is so we can keep them safe. If we don’t get the money, we will have to pack them in the cafeteria like sardines in a can,” Atkins said. 

He said his request would come before the end of the calendar year.