Commission discusses granted related to COVID-19

By Kayla Hawthorne -

POINT PLEASANT — The Mason County Commissioners held its regular meeting on Thursday afternoon at the Mason County Courthouse.

The meeting was held virtually to practice social distancing recommendations.

Commission President Rick Handley, Commissioners Sam Nibert and Tracy Doolittle, County Clerk Diana Cromley, County Administrator John Gerlach and Dennis Zimmerman, director of the Mason County Office of Emergency Services (OES) and EMS, all participated in the meeting.

Gov. Jim Justice’s block grant for expenses related to COVID-19 was discussed at the meeting. The grants, which Justice originally called “hero pay,” is for $100,000. The commissioners, Gerlach and Zimmerman said they are “well-versed” on how the money can be spent.

The commissioners passed a resolution to allow the OES to create an application and take requests from entities who wish to use the block grant. The OES will determine if their requests qualify for the grant, then the commissioners will have the final approval. Zimmerman said examples of how the grant can be used include personal protective equipment and barriers in offices to block contact of respiratory droplets between employees and customers. Zimmerman said offices that qualify must be essential offices of the county or municipalities.

The letter from the governor’s office stated that the funds can only be used to cover expenses that: “(1) Are necessary expenditures incurred due to the public health emergency with respect to the COVID-19 pandemic; (2) Were not accounted for in the budget most recently approved as of March 27, 2020 (the date of enactment of the CARES Act) for your county or municipality; and (3) Were or will be incurred during the period that begins on March 1, 2020 and ends on December 30, 2020.”

Zimmerman updated the commission on the status of positive COVID cases in Mason County. Of the total 11 positive cases, seven of them are considered recovered. The remaining four active cases are doing well, according to Zimmerman. He said the cases were community acquired, but they were contracted from out-of-county job sites.

Zimmerman said there are no confirmed cases from the prison or nursing homes in Mason County. Handley said nursing homes in Mason County were tested on Thursday.

The Mason County Courthouse will remain closed to the public until May 15. For questions, call the specific office in the courthouse.

In her report, Clerk Cromley said that her office would begin sending out absentee ballots on Friday. They have processed over 2,000 applications so far and still have many to go. Cromley said if a registered voter did not receive a postcard for the application, they can go to or call the clerk’s office and an application will be mailed.

Cromley also presented commissioners with a new hire for the sheriff’s office. The motion was approved to hire the individual pending resolving an issue with a previous contract.

Handley reminded those in attendance of a custodian position which will be opened at the end of May. The position will be posted soon.

Nibert, and the other commissioners, showed appreciation for all those working on the front lines during the virus outbreak. Nibert thanked the first responders, farmers, mail carriers, grocery store employees, truck drivers, teachers and school employees, healthcare workers and many other essential workers.

The Mason County Commission scheduled the dates for their next meetings for May 7, May 21, June 11, June 25, July 16 and July 30. The commission typically meets at 4 p.m.

© 2020 Ohio Valley Publishing, all rights reserved.

By Kayla Hawthorne

Kayla Hawthorne is a staff writer for Ohio Valley Publishing. Reach her at (304) 675-1333, ext. 1992.

Kayla Hawthorne is a staff writer for Ohio Valley Publishing. Reach her at (304) 675-1333, ext. 1992.