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Radford dishes out final CARES Act funds for utility payments, e-tickets

Published: Dec. 14, 2020 at 10:25 PM EST
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RADFORD, Va. (WDBJ) - Monday, Radford’s City Council met virtually for its last meeting of the year to dish out some of the remaining CARES Act Funds.

A big portion of that is going to be available for people struggling to pay their utilities. Not many people have taken advantage of the now-$70,000 available for people impacted by COVID-19. There’s now less than a week to see if you qualify.

“There’s a lot of people that never needed assistance before all of a sudden find themselves in need,” said Department of Social Services Director Vicky Collins.

The CARES Act allotment is an extension of the city’s Neighbors-to-Neighbors program.

“No one goes in a DSS database; we are simply acting as an agent of the city coordinating with the treasurer to help get this funding to people in need,” Collins said.

This is different than the traditional program, because you must be impacted by COVID-19 specifically to get access to the money. The city is worried people might be falling through the cracks.

“We really are making an effort to allocate these funds here because we really understand the need and how important it is,” said Councilwoman Jessie Foster. “We really don’t want people’s utilities shut off at all, especially this time of year.”

“The number one message from tonight we hope folks take away is apply if you think you qualify, we wanna connect people to resources,” said Radford Mayor David Horton.

Council also voted Monday night to approve $26,745 of CARES Act funds to help the police department keep officers a little safer during the pandemic.

“You just never know what could escalate on that traffic stop, but today in the world of COVID, in addition to all of those unknown dangers and the traffic dangers that are out there, we face the virus,” said Police Chief Jeff Dodson.

Now, with e-ticketing, police can take a 10- to 15-minute traffic stop down to four to five minutes.

“That lessened time will obviously help with those other dangers and also COVID dangers and our officers getting exposed to COVID,” Dodson said.

At the beginning of the meeting the business continuity team from the task force reminded businesses that they are here and want to help if your workplace has a case of COVID-19 and needs to get up and running quickly. The team has lots of resources to help, including churches during the holiday season.

Anyone who wants to see if they are eligible for utility assistance needs to do so by Friday at noon through DSS. Although there may be snow Wednesday, Collins said she will leave applications outside of the office for people to fill out and return there to get the help they need.

Anyone who pays utility bills in Radford can contribute to the Neighbors-to-Neighbors program by rounding up their bills. Those funds are for people who are not currently impacted by COVID-19.

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