June 24, 2020 — Florence City Council held two special meetings Monday evening, primarily to consider the approval of Resolution No. 17, Series 2020, which authorized staff to apply for a Community Development Block Grant from Business Oregon in the amount of $50,000.
The grant opportunity is for COVID-19 related assistance and is offered to municipalities by Business Oregon, which has $1,750,000 earmarked for communities impacted by the pandemic.
One of the main stipulations for consideration of funding requests is that the money should be used to support job training and education and for the distribution of personal protection equipment (PPE) to workers with low or moderate incomes.
City Recorder Kelli Weese walked councilors through the requirements of the application and the process used to decide to apply. The grant will go toward offering scholarships to local residents who wish to train at Lane Community College (LCC) Florence Center, 3149 Oak St.
“We are looking to provide those low- to moderate-income workers in the Florence region with either a scholarship to the shortened Tourism Industry Training or the full Environmental Services Aide Program,” Weese said. “Once those parties have completed those programs, we’d like to provide them with PPE for those students to use in the workplace as well as at home.”
According to Weese, the city has determined three main issues that need to be addressed in order to rebuild decimated local businesses: rebuilding trust for social places; maintaining safe and clean local businesses; and providing personal protective equipment for workers.
All three areas were determined to be essential for a comprehensive local recovery — with each of these areas potentially being positively impacted by the approval of this grant request.
As primarily a service-related economy, Florence has a growing need for workers to be trained in the proper procedures to deal with COVID-19 when working in hotels, restaurants and retail locations.
LCC has responded by adding classes that will not only provide needed jobs, but an opportunity for a long-term career in medical services while also learning important new skills that are specifically designed to deal with COVID-19. The program currently in place is the Environmental Services Aide Program, which helps train workers in reducing the spread of germs in healthcare facilities and hospitals.
The training also provides a comprehensive review of chemicals, waste disposal, cleaning and disinfecting in light of the COVID-19 outbreak.
Russ Pierson, Dean of LCC’s Florence Center, spoke to the council and reviewed the changing nature of service sector jobs, sharing his belief that there are clear benefits to the already existing Environmental Services Aide program.
“The college has to go through a very strict regimen when we have a program certified, and I should note this program is certified in two ways,” Pierson explained to council members and those viewing the meeting online. “It is certified with the Bureau of Labor and Industries, as a pre-apprenticeship program, and it is also certified with the Higher Education Coordinating Commission. So, students are getting a valid, very prestigious certificate as part of this program.”
There would also likely be an additional option for interested workers in the form of a shortened, more condensed course which would provide basic information that would allow an individual to be employed in a shorter period of time.
With few clarifications needed by councilors, the request by staff for approval of Resolution 17 was passed unanimously as was Resolution 18, Series 2020, which updated the COVID-related procedures in place to allow for public input at virtual Florence City Council meetings.
The next city council meeting is scheduled for Monday, July 20.
To view the complete June 22 Florence City Council meeting, go to www.ci.florence.or.us.