Benton County fire departments to receive American Rescue Plan funding

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BENTONVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — The Benton County Quorum Court approved using American Rescue Plan money to help fund Benton County fire departments.

According to a news release from Benton County, some of the money will be used to pay those on staff at the Beaver Lake and Northeast Benton County fire departments.

Full time employees would receive $2,000 and part time staff would receive $1,000 for responding to calls throughout the pandemic.

According to a release from the U.S. Treasury, the recovery funds can be used to “provide premium pay for essential workers, offering additional support to those who have borne and will bear the greatest health risks because of their service in critical infrastructure sectors.”

Beaver Lake and Northeast Benton County are the only non-municipal supported volunteer fire departments with some staff paid primarily, but not entirely, because they have ambulance service. This allocation is a total of $90,000 of American Rescue Plan (ARP) funds.

The Quorum Court also voted to use ARP funds for volunteer fire departments in Benton County, to match state money through Act 833, which is the State Fire Services Program. The volunteer fire departments do not receive any municipal financial support, according to a Benton County press release.

Avoca, Beaver Lake, Gallatin, Hickory Creek, Hwy 94 East, Maysville, NEBCO, Piney Point, Pleasure Heights, Rocky Branch and Sulphur Springs Volunteer Fire Departments will each receive $23,970.

Justices of the Peace also voted to gives premium payment to Benton County full time and part time employees who worked through the pandemic. Full time employees will receive $2,000 and part time employees will receive $1,000. This allocation totals $1.5 million out of the American Rescue Plan.

The Benton County Quorum Court also approved using American Rescue Plan funds to replace the heating and air conditioning units in the county jail. These are the original units placed in the facility when the jail opened in 1999. This is a $1 million cost out of the ARP funds.

In August, Benton County launched a portal for organizations to apply for ARP grants if they met qualifications. Organizations that can demonstrate that their activities support the public health response, or if they have experienced economic harm from the pandemic and the funds they distribute respond to that harm in ways that are related and reasonably proportional, may apply for funding through October 31.

Applicants can go to this website and click on the “Submit an American Rescue Plan Proposal” tab to start the application process.

Once applications are initially reviewed, Benton County will announce dates and protocol for organizations to present to the ARP committee in person.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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