REED CITY -- The Osceola County Board of Commissioners adopted a motion to extend the Osceola County local state of emergency for COVID-19 response and recovery until the Aug. 4 board meeting or until emergency conditions secede at its meeting July 7.

Osceola County emergency manager Mark Watkins requested the extension stating, "The county is now moving into the recovery phase of the coronavirus pandemic. We have a long term outlook for operations going into September, possibly October, depending on when recovery funding comes through. We should stay under the local state of emergency to keep emergency operations going and provide coordination of service requests coming in from the various entities."

If for some reason the state of emergency was deemed unnecessary prior to Aug. 4, an executive decision by the BOC chairperson, with the recommendation of the emergency manager, could rescind it, he said.

In addition, the BOC approved a motion to open general county buildings to the public under established Osceola County COVID-19 safety plans and building provisions.

Watkins said the county opening was done under the executive directives from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, which were set to expire.

"Technically the executive directive was set to expire so that we could get back under administrative control," Watkins said. "The provisions that the county has in place are running well and from what I understand, the opening went well. We need a motion to open the general county buildings under the county COVID-19 plan."

The BOC also approved a motion to authorize the emergency management department to review all COVID-19 related response and recovery funding applications.

"There are several COVID-19 recovery funding streams," Watkins said. "My concern is that the way they are administered they all have provisions attached to them that different agencies may not be aware of. If the requests are run through the emergency management department, we can avoid the potential of someone applying for the same funds twice or denying funds to quickly.

"The EOC can better take advantage of the various funding streams to make us optimally prepared for another pandemic, or a potential second wave of this one," he said.

County Coordinator Susan VanderPol agreed, stating, "What we don't want is to have people double counting expenditures or costs not knowing that they have already been used in another grant application, because that would get us denied on all of them."

"Having someone look at the grant applications and make sure we are not double counting something or missing something we could count is a great idea," she added.

The BOC also approved a request by Watkins to use the allocated FY18 Homeland Security funds to hire a part-time Homeland Security Planner, not to exceed 16 hours a week and $5,000 total.

According to Watkins, the funds budgeted for that position were not used last year because of a change in staff.

"Coordinator Hanner is already working four to six extra hours a week on COVID-19 related response," Watkins said. "We have one more quarter to finish six months of work and there is no way to do it other than to hire a temp to finish the homeland security grant process for us."

The following motions were also approved by the BOC during the meeting:

• A motion to approve the EMS bad debt write offs in the amount of $55,869.48.

• A motion to approve the Friend of the Court hiring of an enforcement officer to fill a recent vacancy from an employee transferring to another department.

• A motion to approve an amendment to the Brownfield Assessment Grant with the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy to extend the grant for one year and allow for completion of testing and removal of contaminate sources.

• A motion to approve the contribution of $1,000 for a single health plan and $2000 for a double or family health plan for the 2020 health savings account with 50 percent funding put in at the beginning of the plan year and 50 percent at 6 months.

• A motion to approve the AAAWM FY20 contract amendment.

• A motion to approve accepting the FY19 Homeland Security Grant Intergovernmental agreement.

• A motion to approve the Prosecutor's Victim Rights grant application for 2020. and

• A motion to approve the exchange of a laptop and phone for a retiring employee for leaving personally purchased office furniture.