The five members of the Christian County CARES Act Committee now share another title: Employee of the Year.
The Christian County Commission announced that its appointed CARES Act committee shares the 2020 Christian County Employee of the Year Award. The committee debuted in May 2020, following an announcement that Christian County received about $10.4 million in federal funding passed down from the Missouri Office of Administration.
County commissions across Missouri are tasked with being the custodians and caregivers for COVID-19 pandemic relief funding that the state received through the federal CARES Act of 2020. Christian County opted for the committee approach with oversight from the county commission to give some oversight and accountability to how COVID-19 pandemic relief dollars will be spent. The committee reviews applications that local governments, emergency response agencies, school districts and businesses make for part of the money, and then approves or denies the requests.
Christian County Presiding Commissioner Ralph Phillips announced the award on Jan. 4, 2021.
In 2019, Christian County building and maintenance supervisor Richard Teague received the Christian County Employee of the Year Award from the commission. This time, five employees share the award as a collective.
“This has been a very different year,” Phillips said. “This year, we decided to do something different because of the challenges associated with this year.”
In 2020, Phillips said, many employees saw their job responsibilities change on the fly.
“The committee, we felt, deserved recognition,” Phillips said. “We just thought it was appropriate that we do this.”
The five-member CARES Act Committee consists of Christian County Director of Planning and Development Todd Wiesehan, Highway Administrator Miranda Beadles, Director of Human Resources Amber Bryant, Auditor Amy Dent and Director of Human Resources Phil Amtower.
“As expected, you took the challenge on and you did it in a very professional way, and I have no doubt that our mandated audit is going to be 100-percent compliant, like they have been, and you guys have really represented us well in this deal,” Phillips said to the committee members.
The committee approved about $1.23 million in CARES Act funding allocations in December 2020. Some of the biggest expenses involved payroll expenses for public safety personnel who were deemed to be “responding to the COVID-19 emergency.” The committee awarded $453,247.50 to the city of Ozark for payroll expenses for public safety personnel, $189,000 to the Christian County Sheriff’s Office for “expenses for public safety measures undertaken in response to COVID-19,” and $87,923.91 to the Sparta Police Department for payroll expenses, among others in December 2020.
The Christian County CARES Act Committee also recommended that the commission deny $2,058,480.35 in requests in December 2020. Those requests came from the Ozark School District, the city of Ozark, the Nixa Police Department, Nixa Public Schools, the Nixa Police Department, the Clever Police Department, the Sparta R-3 School District and the Christian County Health Department. The applications were denied because they “did not receive an average score to reach the minimum threshold for funding,” according to the committee’s documentation.