Volume I; issue xiv | September 2020
Submitted by the Executive Director's office.

Eastern Carolina Council of Governments (ECCOG) would love to share your news with the Region. Email your stories to eccadmin@eccog.org
COVID-19 Related
Telework Pay Guidance
With telework arrangements expanding in response to the coronavirus pandemic, today the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) issued Field Assistance Bulletin (FAB) 2020-5 to clarify an employer’s obligation to track the number of hours of compensable work by employees who are teleworking or otherwise working away from premises controlled by their employers.

The NC Department of Health and Human Services announced a new effort to deploy up to 300 free testing sites in underserved communities. This targeted testing initiative seeks to confront historical health disparities by increasing access to no-cost COVID-19 testing for African American, LatinX/Hispanic and American Indian communities across the state.
A disproportionately high percentage of North Carolina’s confirmed cases of COVID-19 have occurred among historically marginalized populations. Mounting evidence shows the members of these populations experience higher rates of COVID-19 mortality and serious complications.
As many as 300 temporary testing sites will be deployed throughout the month of July, including drive-thru and walk-up sites. The initiative will increase testing capacity in more than 100 ZIP codes, providing testing access for 2.2 million African American, LatinX/Hispanic and American Indian individuals. Two vendors have been identified to begin this work, Vidant Health and Orig3n, Inc.

The initiative emphasizes a community testing approach. The awarded vendors are required to connect individuals with medical homes and provide services with culturally and linguistically appropriate standards, working within existing trusted community partnerships; additionally, no payment from the individual will be needed for the testing. Insurance, if available, will be billed but no co-pays or cost-sharing will be asked of anyone seeking testing. Those who are uninsured will have full access to free testing at these sites.

Communities were selected based on low testing capacity and high African American, Latinx/Hispanic and/or American Indian populations. Higher concentration of elderly populations with multiple chronic conditions and higher rates of construction and seasonal farm work were also factors.

For more information on testing, please see the Frequently Asked Questions about Testing. For more information about North Carolina’s response to COVID-19, visit nc.gov/covid19.

Upcoming Training
Introduction to Local Government Finance Registration - Aug - Sept
This introductory course provides basic instruction in local government and public authority finance and financial management. Areas of instruction include the basic legal authority and requirements governing local government revenues, budgeting processes, cash management, purchasing and contracting, expenditure control, conflicts of interest, fund accounting and financial reporting. The course also provides an overview of the state and local economic issues that inform strategic budgeting decisions.
Small Business Federal Certifications Webinar - September 8, 2020 - 9:00 am
SBA will be hosting a webinar on September 8, 2020 at 9am highlighting the way the various federal certifications may be eligible for businesses looking to sell products and services to the federal government. To register, please go to: http://www.sbtdc.org/business-events/small-business-federal-certifications-workshop-webinar-5/
'The Show Must Go On' Webinar Series - October 7-November 4
COVID-19 has underscored the importance of crisis planning, operational efficiencies, cash flow modeling, and—above all—agile thinking. Organizations not only need to adapt to the current upheaval, but also anticipate whatever world awaits on the other side of it. In partnership with MidCarolina COG and WithersRavenel, join us for a series of upcoming webinars that aim to aid you with efficiently and effectively managing through some of the toughest challenges and unfunded mandates that lie ahead of local government leaders in the months to come. These sessions are being offered free of charge. We will provide more information soon, so stay tuned for information on dates, times, and how to register.
Development Finance Toolbox - December 8-10
How do local governments use public-private partnerships for development? What finance tools are available to local governments to revitalize Main Street? North Carolina communities can select from a wide array of financing tools in their efforts to attract and grow businesses, improve real estate, and build community assets. In order to select the right approach for your development project, it helps to understand the options. Participants in this course will learn the basics of development finance tools used by North Carolina local governments to achieve their community and economic development goals. The registration fee includes a workshop on Day 1 designed to teach you basics of calculating an estimated return on investment and different ways of thinking about debt and equity, so you can heighten your intuition about worthwhile projects.
ARC webinars - Recovery & Economic Innovation during COVID-19 -
ARC and the State of Ohio have partnered to offer a series of webinars entitled “Economic Innovation + Ingenuity During COVID”. There are weekly webinars available for free on topics as diverse on dealing with substance abuse and COVID-19 to promoting broadband as critical infrastructure in light of COVID-19. Pre-registration is required. To learn more and participate, please go to: https://www.arc.gov/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=703
Grant Opportunities
EDA invites applications for economic development grant opportunities
The U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) invites applicants to submit applications under its Public Works program and Economic Adjustment Assistance (EAA) programs. Through these programs, EDA invites applications to request grant assistance for clearly defined construction or non-construction assistance projects that will advance job creation, job retention and private investment or enhance economic development decision-making, respectfully. 

Through EDA’s grant programs construction may support the construction of new public assets or the renovation of existing public assets, which include but are not limited to water/sewer lines, tanks, systems, pumps; incubators; access roads; workforce training facilities; commercialization centers; port improvements; and other similar projects.  EDA’s non-construction projects can support a wide array of activities, including highest and best use analysis, cluster and supply chain mapping studies, and regional technical assistance projects. Matching share funds are required and must be committed at the time of the project and for the same scope of work. For Public Works and Economic Adjustment Assistance Programs the match is generally 50 percent, although communities may qualify for a higher grant rate. To learn more and to discuss potential projects, please contact Hillary Sherman at hsherman@eda.gov. To access the funding notice and application forms, please go to: https://www.grants.gov/web/grants/view-opportunity.html?oppId=321695.
NC DOC accepting applications from businesses and nonprofits hurt by COVID-19
Businesses and nonprofit organizations in North Carolina that have experienced disruption due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic may apply for up to $250,000 from new Job Retention Grant Program from NC Commerce. This program, supported through $15 million in federal COVID-19 funds, is for businesses and nonprofits that have not already participated in the federal Paycheck Protection Program the federal Main Street Loan Program, or the state Rapid Recovery Loan Program; the applicant must have maintained at least 90 percent of the number of full-time employees in North Carolina at the end of June 2020 as it did as the end of February 2020; and, the applicant must have had a reduction in sales (for businesses) or receipts (for nonprofits) of more than 10 percent when comparing March-May 2020 to March-May 2019 levels. To learn more about the program, please go to https://www.nccommerce.com/grants-incentives/disaster-recovery/job-retention-grant-jrg.
USDA Rural Placemaking Innovation Challenge
USDA has announced its Rural Placemaking Innovation Challenge (RPIC) initiative to provide planning support and technical assistance to foster placemaking in rural communities. Up to $1 million in grants is available, and the maximum grant award is $250,000. To be competitive, applicants must demonstrate existing and proposed partnerships with public, private, philanthropic, and community partners in their applications. The deadline for application submission is September 10. To learn more, please go to: https://www.rd.usda.gov/sites/default/files/fact-sheet/508_RD_FS_RuralPlacemakingInnovationChallenge.pdf
CDBG-CV Program for Local Governments Overview

The North Carolina CDBG-CV Program is designed to help units of local government (incorporated municipalities under 50,000 and counties under 200,000) respond to and recover from the health and economic impacts of COVID-19. To participate in the CDBG-CV Program, proposed projects must incorporate at least one of the following areas as an area of focus:
  • Support families and communities through telehealth support and other public services
  • Protect the most vulnerable and high-risk populations
  • Assist small businesses with economic recovery
  • Address testing, tracing, and tracking trends

The State has also established the following funding priorities by eligible activity:
  • Public Service - The priority in this category is subsistence payments to prevent evictions and utility disconnections. It also includes food distribution, testing and diagnosis, and employment training for frontline healthcare workers
  • Public Facilities - The priority in this category is broadband services and enhancing Internet access that supports connectivity to schools, jobs, and healthcare. It also includes building rehabilitation or improvements for patient treatment centers
  • Economic Development - The priority in this category is to provide financial assistance to businesses with 100 or fewer employees, including micro-enterprises. The focus is to help businesses that manufacture medical supplies and to help small businesses impacted by the pandemic. 

CDBG-CV Applications
The Department of Commerce will begin accepting applications for the CDBG-CV Program on September 1, 2020. Click here to view the application. The maximum grant amount is $900,00 per grantee. There is no minimum grant amount and there is no match requirement.
Free Virtual Caregiver Summit - October 22, 2020
The Virtual Summit offers caregivers, family members, and professionals the chance to view educational sessions and participate in live Q&A with many of the speakers. Presentations include Caregiver Technology, Navigating Safely Through the Coronavirus Fear and Beyond, Driving Safety, Dance & Movement for Everyone, How to Pay for Long Term Care, and much more.

Contact hours available for professionals.

ECCAAA Family Caregiver Specialist is proud to be a guest speaker at the 2020 Caregivers Summit.

Greene County's Family Caregiver Support Program
Monthly virtual support group meetings - Online via ZOOM
Adult family members or other informal caregivers age 18 and older providing care to individuals 60 years of age and older; Adult family members or other informal caregivers age 18 and older providing care to individuals of any age with Alzheimer's Disease and related disorders.

Contact: Greene County Senior Center at 252-747-5436 or email at sue.smith@greenecountync.gov or sharon.harrison@greenecountync.gov
Craven County's Family Caregiver Support Program - 1st Wednesday of the Month at 1:00 P.M.
Monthly virtual support group meetings - Online via ZOOM
Call In: (929) 205-6099; Meeting ID: 94789111688
All participants welcome.
For more information contact: Nancy Willett at 252-636-0831

Carteret County's Family Caregiver Support Program - Every Thursday
Weekly virtual support group meetings - Online via ZOOM
Call In: (929) 205-6099; Meeting ID: 91673594235

All participants welcome.
For more information contact: Pat Wesson at 252-241-2201 or January Brown at 252-638-3185 ext. 3011
Reshoring opportunities in a COVID environment
The novel COVID-19 virus has seemingly transformed our world virtually overnight – ushering in profound changes in work, education, and consumption patterns. A new article in Industry Week highlights implications of current environment for manufacturers and suggests several specific sectors may be more likely to reshore to US than others. This information may be of interest to economic developers and local leaders working to promote economic development. To access the report, please go to: https://www.industryweek.com/supply-chain/article/21139479/rethinking-the-supply-chain-during-covid19?utm_source=IY+IW+Daily+Headlines+-+Morning&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=CPS200817082&o_eid=6608E8214056A2Z&rdx.ident%5Bpull%5D=omeda%7C6608E8214056A2Z&oly_enc_id=6608E8214056A2Z

Baker Tilly Develops Public Sector COVID-19 Recovery Assessment Tool
Baker Tilly has released a Public Sector COVID-19 Recovery Assessment Tool to help state and local governments, utilities and school district leaders better understand the diverse impacts of the virus on the entity and community, assess the entity’s and community’s level of preparedness, and identify potential risks that the entity may need to mitigate. To learn more, please go to: https://www.bakertilly.com/specialties/public-sector-covid-19-recovery-assessment-tool.

USDA releases Recreation Economy Resource Guide
USDA recently launched a resource guide for rural leaders and economic development practitioners outlining a complete list of federal programs available through USDA Rural Development, Forest Service, and the National Institute for Food and Agriculture that can be used to support recreational economies in rural America. This guide addresses key factors to building a sustainable recreational economy, including natural resource management, conservation activities, infrastructure investment, and business development and more. To access the guide, please go to: https://www.rd.usda.gov/sites/default/files/RD_Recreation_Economy_USDA.pdf.

EPA toolkit on how to prepare for natural disasters
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a toolkit last year on how mid-sized communities can prepare for a disaster. As the heart of hurricane season approaches information in this report may be helpful. To access please go to: https://www.urbanwaterslearningnetwork.org/resources/pre-disaster-toolkit/ 
Regional Happenings
Add Your WiFi Hotspots to State Map
It was Rural Broadband Week last week in North Carolina, and officials used it to highlight the work being done to bridge the digital divide, which has been a central mission of the League. One piece the state has highlighted is its map of free public Wi-Fi access spots across North Carolina during the pandemic. In an email this week to community partners, the state’s Hometown Strong program asked local government officials to review the map and add any school, business or community WiFi spots not already listed. Doing so will help individuals using the map to find what’s available locally.
BAND-NC Announced First Grantees
On August 18 IEI announced its first round of grant recipients for Building a New Digital Economy in NC (BAND-NC). Eleven North Carolina counties will each receive a $5,000 grant to help bridge the digital divide in their communities. Carteret County Economic Development Foundation, Inc. and Craven County Peletah Ministries were awarded BAND-NC grants. Congratulations.
The Eastern Carolina Council of Governments (ECC) staff received three prestigious National Awards this week. In June, ECC submitted nominations for the National Association of Development Organizations Impact Awards. The merits of the nomination and the services provided were vetted by a national committee and awards were given to organizations who developed and implemented programs having pronounced and lasting impacts on a community. To answer the question what does the ECC Aging staff do for a community, please read the programs the ECC provides to our adults over sixty.
Regional Dementia Education and Supportive Training

The Eastern Carolina Council of Governments Area Agency on Aging (ECCAAA) provides simulation training to improve service to adults with dementia. The workshop includes an interactive experience for participants to step in the shoes of an adult with dementia. Participants include first responders, employees of long-term care facilities, local government employees, and caregivers.  

The ECCAAA partners with local Crisis Intervention Officer Training Certification Programs to provide first responder training to include Dementia Simulation Training and Crisis Training when addressing an individual with dementia and their caregivers. Through the training programs, individuals learn successful communication skills that improve services for individuals diagnosed with dementia and their caregivers in their community during interactions and crisis. ECCAAA Family Caregiver Specialist Janurary Brown and the Regional Long-Term Care Ombudsmen Angela Pridgen and Colby Smith have partnered to facilitate a unique opportunity for fire department staff, long-term care facility staff and families, and community healthcare professionals. Participants gain a greater awareness and understanding of the constant struggles (24/7) affecting persons with dementia. Using specialized gear within a safe setting, participants experience a real-life simulation of what feels like be like to live day to day with dementia. Participants also receive dementia awareness training, caregiver crisis training, and elder abuse training. Training of first responders can improve outcomes and provide support to individuals living independently in our communities. First responders are becoming more aware of the need for dementia training, information, and interaction processes to help them best respond to the needs of individuals with dementia in their community. 

Additionally, the ECCAAA created two mobile “Faces of Dementia”, traveling exhibits that have been displayed at local events, meetings, and other public gatherings to build awareness and education of dementia in our communities. The exhibit features individuals along with a brief bio to include celebrities and local individuals who have lived with dementia. The “Faces of Dementia” exhibit pays homage to individuals living with dementia and has become a lasting tribute to these incredible legacies. Individuals diagnosed with dementia touches all of our community. They are family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, colleagues, clients, and customers.
Elder Abuse Awareness Campaigns

The ECCAAA’s Ombudsmen Angela Pridgen and Colby Smith facilitate Elder Abuse Awareness Campaigns throughout our nine-county region to promote the education, awareness, detection and prevention of abuse, neglect, and exploitation of older adults.

June 15th is designated as World Elder Abuse Awareness Day each year. North Carolina recognizes from Mother’s Day to Father’s Day each year as Elder Abuse Awareness Month. The ECCAAA Ombudsman Program has held annual “Elder Abuse Awareness Walks” to recognize these significant dates during the months of May and June. The ECCAAA held events in Onslow County for the past six years, in Lenoir County for the past five years, Greene County for the past four years, Craven for the past two years, and Duplin County for the past two years. The goal of the Elder Abuse Awareness Walks is to educate the community on what constitutes Elder Abuse, how to prevent abuse, who to report allegations of abuse to, and to provide national and state statistics on abuse. This past year, the ECCAAA developed elder abuse awareness steering committees to plan the events. These committees consist of representatives from law enforcement, local Department of Social Services, banking industry, local hospitals, senior centers, home health agencies, and other community groups. The 2019 year was our most successful year thus far because of the work of these committees. We met several months prior to the event dates to plan and prepare for each event. We held our first Elder Abuse Awareness Walk in Duplin County on May 15, 2019 with 300 registered participants during the Senior Center’s Annual Fun Day. Onslow County held an awareness walk and health fair at the Onslow Senior Services on May 29th. We had a record high of over 100 participants at this year’s event. Lenoir County held their event at Pearson Park. Entertainment was provided by the local Senior Dance team to go along with the Walk on June 14th with a total of 100 participants. Greene County’s walk was held on June 14th at the Greene County Senior Center and had 200 participants. We created signs to line the path of the “Walks” with state and national elder abuse statistics printed on each sign. To make these events successful and to incorporate other age groups, we coordinated volunteers from local high school ROTC programs and law enforcement.

In Wayne County, we teamed up with the Peggy M. Seegars Senior Center to conduct an Elder Abuse Symposium on June 12th with 100 participants in attendance. Speakers included local law enforcement, Adult Protective Services staff, and a representative from the North Carolina Secretary of State. We coordinated with Carteret County DSS to run a full-page article on Elder Abuse Awareness. The article ran for four consecutive weeks. We set up a booth for Elder Abuse Awareness at the Jones County Health Fair and provided t-shirts to over 50 participants. Our goal for 2019 was to provide elder abuse awareness throughout our nine county regions.

In 2020, in-person awareness events were cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, we transitioned our awareness efforts to a virtual platform and sponsored a social media awareness campaign. The campaign included elder abuse awareness ads that were presented on Facebook in Craven, Lenoir, Onslow, and Wayne Counties. The social media campaign garnered exceptionally good reactions with triple the average “click” rate as other similar campaigns.
Assistive Technology AAA Program

With the growth of technology “aging in place” is becoming more of a reality for older adults. According to recent AARP research, the technology market for adults over age fifty is growing rapidly. Older adult consumers are expected to spend $84 billion on technology products by the end of the next decade. 

Keeping up with products and their potential uses can be a challenge. Technological advancements have been focusing more on older adults. Products are focusing on ways to address the challenges that contribute to social isolation, communication with caregivers, safety monitoring, artificial intelligence, telehealth, and smart home devices. Technology is not all about electronic devices but rather devices that can assist in a manner that accomplishes a task and can assist with independence. 

Over the past year the ECCAAA has embraced the idea that technology can make a real difference in the lives of older adults. This has been done in several ways. First, the Family Caregiver Support Program (FCSP) lead by Janurary Brown has incorporated the use of robotic animal technology to support caregivers and individuals with cognitive impairment to improve quality of life by providing companionship, interaction, and emotional support. Secondly, the ECCAAA continues to provide updated information, education, and training on the latest technological advances to include devices, apps, and other equipment available to help older adults and adults with disabilities to remain as independent as possible. Finally, as a response to COVID-19 and the social distancing recommendations, the ECCAAA facilitates caregiver support groups virtually.

Currently, there are two active virtual support groups meeting once a month. Participation has grown and there are caregivers that participate outside of our region. We have learned that even when services return to in person, it will be important for us to continue to offer the virtual support group option.

The ECCAAA presented Older Adult and Caregiver Technology 101 educational trainings throughout the region. The Technology 101 training has been presented to older adult and caregiver community workshop presentations, support groups, informational sessions, and professional trainings. The ECCAAA FCSP has also presented workshop sessions at the North Carolina FCSP state meeting, the Southeastern Area Agency on Aging Training Conference, NC Activities Directors Conference, and the NC Support Groups quarterly round table event. In addition to assisting Area Agency on Aging (AAA) across North Carolina, the ECCAAA has assisted AAAs in Kentucky and California with development of technology education and information for their clients that they serve.

For FY 20-21 there are two projects the ECCAAA hopes to accomplish successfully to advance our technology initiative. First, ECCAAA is currently building a technology lending library to be piloted throughout the region. Finance Director Jenny Miller has helped secure funding and has begun ordering materials. Secondly, FCSP Coordinator Janurary Brown will continue to host online workshops/training for older adults, caregivers, and professionals.  
Duke Energy’s efforts to strengthen the grid against floods impacting essential equipment
The company is installing reinforced flood barriers – and making it more resistant to power outages from severe weather and more resilient to recover faster when outages occur. Duke Energy is seeing more major storms hitting our service area, so we must take steps to prepare the grid to withstand extreme weather, and keep service reliable in all types of weather. Taking steps today ensures that we can help customers avoid costly and disruptive outages, and that we’ll be ready when the storm strikes, no matter where that storm comes from. 
Public Comment - Havelock By-pass
Because of COVID-19, NCDOT is not holding in-person public meetings for the health and safety of the public. The public is invited to view maps for both design alternatives​ along with narrat​ed flyover videos of each alternative and visualizations of the proposed interchanges​. 

The public is encouraged to provide comments regarding the proposed alternative concepts using NCDOT's public input portal​​. Comments are due Sept. 14, 2020.

COVID-19 Supplies Distributed
Since mid-March, senior centers have been closed to the public. However, many services like In-Home Aide, Care Management, and Medical Transportation have continued to operate. Additionally, meals have continued to be offered. Service providers throughout our region have worked tirelessly making sure older adults in their respective counties receive services necessary to remaining independent in their homes and communities. As we continue to take precautions to protect ourselves, families, and neighbors we are also starting to slowly open services with altered schedules and service limitations. To date, the Jones County Department of Social Services has opened all three sites offering hot meals to participants. Onslow County Senior Services has opened the Adult Day Care and Wayne County Services on Aging has opened the Group Respite program.

ECCAAA received an additional 7,500 cloth masks from FEMA. Masks will be distributed to the regions service providers for staff and volunteers to use while delivering services to older adults. Masks can not be given to program participants. In June, ECCAAA distributed over 9,500 masks. Masks continue to be requested by providers, especially now that services are slowly beginning re-open.  

Nutrition for our elderly during the COVID -19 pandemic has maintained a steady flow. Our providers across the region have been working hard to bring meals to our clients. They have been supplied meals in a multiple ways, like contactless pick-up and delivery as well bag groceries in some counties. In the month of July 2020 alone our providers have provided 27,043 meals to 5,395 clients. Duplin county has provided 882 bags of groceries to 882 clients over the month, also.
Staying Connected
One of the hardest parts of the COVI-19 pandemic for families with loved ones in long term care facilities is not being able to visit. This is especially true for those family members who visited daily and helped provide care to the resident. Staying connected is very important for the welfare of the resident and their family. Here are 6 tips on how to stay connected to your loved ones: Click here to read more
Next Scheduled Meetings
Executive Committee Meeting
September 10, 2020
3rd Floor Conference Room at ECC