Accomack To Get $6.3M More in Federal COVID-19 Relief

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By Carol Vaughn —

Accomack County is expected to receive $6.3 million under the federal American Rescue Plan of 2021, which was signed into law March 12.
The county has not yet received specific guidelines, but information released by the National Association of Counties indicates the money will come directly from the U. S. Treasury, rather than being allocated by the state, as CARES Act funds were, Accomack County Administrator Mike Mason told the Accomack County Board of Supervisors Wednesday.
Additionally, incorporated towns are to receive their allocations directly from the federal government, he said.
Half of the money is to be given to the county within 60 days of when the law was signed, with the rest coming no earlier than 12 months later.
The deadline to spend the funds is Dec. 31, 2024.
The board will discuss eligible uses for the money at its April 21 meeting.
Among eligible uses are: to respond to the public health emergency’s impacts, including providing assistance to households, small businesses, and nonprofit organizations or aid to impacted industries including tourism; to provide extra pay to eligible county workers performing essential work during the pandemic or provide grants to eligible employers; help pay for government services impacted by reduced tax revenue due to the pandemic; and to make investments in water, sewer, or broadband infrastructure.
Library Construction Update
The board after a closed session discussion took no action on a request for an extension from the contractor building the new public library in Parksley.
RH Contracting, Inc., asked for a three-month extension on the contract to complete the work.
The completion dates the company proposed are June 13 for substantial completion and July 13 for final completion.
The company president, Edgar Flores, proposed “in lieu of the additional expense for architectural fees to the county for the time extension,” to at no cost reroute roof drain lines away from the Heritage Center part of the building, as the project’s steering committee requested — a change order that according to a previous quote would cost around $27,500.
The contractor “is at the mercy of the current weather and subcontractors,” Flores wrote in a Feb. 25 email to Accomack County Public Works Director Stewart Hall.
According to the contract, liquidated damages related to not completing the work by the deadline are $1,500 per day, or totaling $138,000 over the three-month period.
The board approved a request from the library trustees to name the new library the Eastern Shore of Virginia Regional Library & Heritage Center, and to name a small study room for Bea Johnson and an entryway for Otho Wescott Custis and Diana Ciuffreda Custis.
Hack’s Neck Landing Settlement Reached
The board approved entering into a settlement agreement with a property owner, resolving a longstanding dispute related to the Hack’s Neck public boat landing.
The landing has been used for recreational and commercial public access to the Bay for generations.
The agreement and general release between the county and Nandua Selects, LLC, and managing member Tucker Terry allow the county to acquire land next to the landing to create a public parking area.
The improvements are expected to be made in time for the 2021 boating season.
Under the agreement, the county will purchase .57 acres of Nandua Selects’ property for $80,000, with closing to happen within 30 days.
Pending litigation, which sought enforcement of a 2018 settlement agreement, will be dismissed under the new agreement.
Chairman Ron Wolff noted the resolution of the matter has been “a long time coming.”

Grants Sought for MNS Cultural Enrichment Center and Horntown Housing Improvements
The board voted to authorize applying for planning grants for two projects: the Mary Nottingham Smith Cultural Enrichment Center and housing improvements in East Horntown.
The county typically has had only one Community Development Block Grant at a time, but there is nothing prohibiting having two, other than having enough staff and resources to manage both, according to Mason.
Due to staff limitations, the county typically contracts with the Accomack-Northampton Planning District Commission to manage these types of grants, Mason said, but noted he was told the A-NPDC does not have resources to manage both grants at one time.
The board approved Mason’s recommendation to apply for both and to enter into a management services agreement with the A-NPDC for the Horntown project.
For the MNS grant, the MNS alumni association agreed to do the grant application package and, if the grant is awarded, to procure grant management services.
Mason noted the MNS project “has a lot of community support.”
Karen Downing of the MNS project management team said the team will be adding additional members to help with planning efforts.
After several community meetings were held as part of the preplanning process, “there were persons who had signed up who wanted to assist us with this next phase,” she said.
Additionally, the group is creating teams to work on fund development, historic designation, and marketing, she said.
Most Accomack County Employees Vaccinated
All county employees who had indicated they were willing to take a COVID-19 vaccine had been vaccinated as of March 12, Mason said.
Over 70% of county employees are expected to be fully vaccinated within a month.

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