By Paul Garrod
PAW PAW – Van Buren County Commissioners on Tuesday, Jan. 11, approved a proposal to use $82,000 in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to cover the costs of the HVAC improvements for Van Buren County’s 911 Operations Center.
Commissioners said the HVAC project consists of major HVAC improvements for the 911 Operations Center location. The AHU replacement in 911 Dispatch is needed because the unit is 21 years old and has outdated controls and associated components. As a result, the unit cannot bring in sufficient outside air into the building for the number of occupants in the building. Commissioners noted a key component to mitigating the spread of COVID- 19, as well as other airborne diseases, is the proper amount of air exchange in an occupied facility.
Commissioners also approved a proposal to use $142,000 in ARPA funds to cover the costs of the HVAC improvements for the historic Van Buren County Courthouse. The HVAC project consists of major HVAC improvements for the courthouse, including controls needed so that the existing systems can be properly maintained/operated consistently throughout the courthouse. As with the Operations Center, commissioners said a key component to mitigating the spread of COVID-19, as well as other airborne diseases, is the proper amount of air exchange in an occupied facility.
The board approved a request to approve a COVID-19 mini-grant from State Court Administrative Office (SCAO) that was applied for by the Circuit Court Family Division. This funding was made available to address the effects that COVID-19 has played in delaying the return of children from foster care back to their homes. The nine-month grant requires no local match. SCAO will reimburse the court for 100 percent of these expenditures, up to $16,396.70.
The board also approved a request for an access and visitation grant contract. The reoccurring grant helps pay for supervised visitation services in domestic relations cases. There is no match required. The contract will reimburse the Friend of the Court for up to $2,250 in Fiscal Year 2022 for supervised visitation services, provided by Family and Children Services.
Commissioners also approved a request for Fiscal Year 2022 grant contracts awarded to service the Van Buren County Courts. The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) has approved the application and awarded Van Buren County $696,944 to enhance the courts’ Family Reunification Court program. The award project period is from Oct. 1, 2021 to Sept. 30, 2025. Funding will be used to offer family-based treatment, ancillary legal services, and training for Reunification Court staff.
Under the OJJDP grant, approval is also being sought to modify the case manager position to a Family Reunification Court social worker and place this position on the non-union payscale. The Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) has approved the application and awarded Van Buren County $549,990 to enhance the courts’ Drug Court program. The award project period is from Oct. 1, 2021 to Sept. 30, 2025. Funding will be used to offer additional treatment services, program evaluation, peer support, and training for Reunification Court staff. Under this BJA grant, approval is also being sought to add a position by hiring a full-time jail screener, to be placed on the non-union pay scale.
Van Buren County Courts has been selected to receive an award from the Coronavirus Emergency Supplemental Funding (CESF) grant received by the Michigan State Police (MSP), Grants and Community Services Division, from the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Assistance in the amount of $13,145. This funding will be used to purchase equipment for remote hearings and a pre-trial supervision software. The award project period is from Oct. 1, 2022 to Dec. 31, 2022.
In another area, the board approved a request to re-appoint Paul DeYoung to the Land Bank Authority, as his current appointment expired on Dec. 31, 2021. The three-year term will expire on Dec. 31, 2024.
DeYoung was also reappointed to the Building Authority for a three-year term, also to expire on Dec. 31, 2024.