County closes facilities, funds relief efforts

For Newton Now

The Harvey County Commission announced at its March 24 meeting that it will direct financial aid to two local organizations to begin to address community needs related to novel coronavirus, or COVID-19.

We won’t know the full effects of COVID-19 on our communities for a long time, but we know we need to provide relief now, not later,” said Harvey County Commission Chair Randy Hague.

The Commission committed $25,000 to the Newton Ministerial Alliance, which oversees the Harvest of Love food pantry. This funding will go toward acquiring food, baby care and other sustenance products to distribute to those in need throughout the county.

Commissioners provided another $50,000 to the Central Kansas Community Foundation for a community relief fund. The CKCF will allocate funding to charitable organizations in Harvey County that are anticipated to see an increase in demand for services.

The County will use general fund reserves to contribute to the organizations.

The Commission also announced it will temporarily close County facilities to the public beginning March 25, a move to reduce the potential spread of COVID-19.

There has not been a confirmed case of COVID-19 in Harvey County. However, the Commission made the decision in a proactive effort.

Public health starts at the local level,” said Harvey County Administrator Anthony Swartzendruber. “We can still provide essential services, including emergency response, while also doing our part to limit potential exposures for our staff and in the community.”

County staff will continue to report to their job sites. They will be available to help residents with requests by phone, email or online. Some staff will rotate shifts. Essential operations such as health, emergency communications and the sheriff’s office will remain fully staffed.

The County will detail specific changes to department operations later in the week.

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