Court approves $150,000 COVID relief bill for restaurants, bars
Woodford Fiscal Court’s final meeting of the year is usually a very short one devoted to paying the county’s bills. This year, the Dec. 23 special meeting went longer, with most of it spent passing a plan to use federal CARES Act funds to help pay the bills of restaurants and bars hurt by the pandemic. In a series of votes, the court unanimously passed the Woodford County Food and Beverage Relief Fund, which was sponsored by Magistrate William Downey (Dist. 5). The fund will make up to $7,500 available to restaurants and bars located in the unincorporated parts of the county and up to $2,000 for restaurants and bars in Versailles and Midway. (Both city councils passed COVID relief packages earlier in the year.) Up to $150,000 could be spent on the plan. The program is designed to assist restaurants and bars hurt by the two statewide bans on in-person gatherings, the most recent of which expired Dec. 13. Among the eligibility requirements are that the businesses receive less than half their proceeds through drive-thru and carry-out, while franchises and chains must be majority-owned by a Woodford County resident. They must also have been in existence at least six months before Gov. Andy Beshear’s Nov. 18 executive order. Guidelines, criteria and the application are posted on the county’s website (woodfordcounty.ky.gov) and Treasurer Sabra Garmon, at firstname.lastname@example.org, is the point of contact. The deadline to apply through the county’s website is Jan. 5, and a list of restaurants and bars will likely be voted on at the court’s Jan. 12 meeting, though an earlier special meeting is possible, according to Judge-Executive James Kay. In response to a question from Magistrate C.L. Watts (Dist. 2), Kay said there was no further assistance for local governments in the federal new stimulus bill (which was signed by President Trump Sunday night). Later, Kay criticized Congress for waiting too long to approve a new relief package and said that if something had been done sooner, perhaps restaurants like Melissa’s Cottage Café and Sweet Lilu’s wouldn’t have had to close. After the votes, Downey thanked the court for not letting the perfect be the enemy of the good. Moment of silence, salute to Graviss The meeting began with a moment of silence to honor the four Woodford County residents who, as of that day, had died from COVID-19. Then there was a tribute to outgoing state Rep. Joe Graviss, who was defeated in the race for the open state 7th Senate District seat. Kay saluted Graviss for his longtime leadership, care, compassion, commitment to the community and said he was a great man. Magistrates followed suit, and County Attorney Alan George said as a state representative, Graviss made his decisions based on what was good for the people, rather than his political party. Graviss said he was extremely touched by the nice comments, that it had been great working with members of the court and thanked them for their public service. He then echoed a remark made during the Dec. 1 Versailles City Council meeting, saying “This isn’t a goodbye, just a see you later.” Year in review The meeting ended with a presentation from Kay listing the county’s achievements of 2020, from making free protective masks available to everyone to holding successful primary and general elections.