October 2020 Newsletter
October Highlights
Here is what you'll find in this month's newsletter:

  • Photo Contest
  • Kerr-Tar Cog on Facebook
  • KTAAA Update
  • Caregiver Vouchers
  • Medicare Open Enrollment
  • Regional Ombudsman Update
  • KTAAA on WIZS Town Talk
  • The Caregiver's Cup
  • Essential Single-Family Rehabilitation Loan Pool Program
  • Urgent Repair Program
  • USDA to Provide Assistance to Farmers & Ranchers
  • GREAT Grant Program
  • Additional COVID Relief for Small Businesses
  • KTRPO Meeting
  • Sustainable Fleet Technology Virtual Conference
  • Fall 2020 Litter Sweep
  • Drone Program Competes for Top Transportation Award
  • $47.5 Million Grant to Preserve Rail Corridor for Future Passenger Use
  • National Walk to School Day
  • Regional Virtual Job Fair
  • Census 2020 Update
  • Join Our Staff
  • Open for Business Loan
  • Warren County Tops State in Tourism Expenditures Growth in 2019
  • Guidance for Fall-Related Events
  • FEMA Building Resilient Infrastructure & Communities
  • NC Rural Center Presents "Building on Higher Ground" Webinar Series
Mark Your Calendar!
  • KTAAA on Town Talk on WIZS
  • Wednesday, October 14 @ 11 am
  • Next COG Virtual Board Meeting:
  • Thursday, October 22 @ 6:00 pm
  • Via Zoom
  • Next TAC/TCC Virtual Meeting:
  • Thursday, October 22, 3:00-5:00 pm
But First...VOTE!
Before you read any further, stop and vote! These 3 Franklin County photos, taken by McKinley Perkins, are part of NADO's Photo Contest. They are in the running for the People's Choice Award. All you have to do is CLICK HERE and like these 3 photos to vote. We would love to see Franklin County win this award! You can also click on each photo and it will take you to that photo for you to vote (like) on that individual one, so you don't have to wade through all the photos.
We have a Facebook Page!
Beth Davis, our Regional Engagement Specialist has created a KTCOG Facebook Page. We invite you all to like this page and share any posts that you think might benefit your network. The best kind of advertising is word of mouth, and Facebook is kind of like the digital version. We welcome any and all feedback regarding the content of this page because we want it to be relevant information. Check it out HERE.

You can also find Kerr-Tar Area Agency on Aging on Facebook as well. Check them out HERE.
COVID-19 Support Services Program
Duke University Health System was awarded a contract by NC DHHS to support North Carolinians in 20 targeted counties, including Vance and Granville, who are asked to isolate or quarantine due to COVID-19 and need assistance such as food, relief payments, or access to primary medical care. The Kerr-Tar Area Agency on Aging is partnering with Duke to support those residents by providing COVID-related over-the-counter supplies, such as a face mask, hand sanitizer, thermometer or cleaning supplies. As of the end of September, Kerr Tar AAA has served over 200 individuals and families.
Assistance for Older Adults with COVID-Related Needs
The Kerr-Tar AAA received federal grant funding through the CARES Act to support COVID-19 related needs of adults age 60 and older in the region. COVID related needs include food, PPE, assistive items for the home, medical alert devices, etc. Services are available through referrals only, via physicians’ practices, social workers, case managers, and other human and social service agencies. CARES services are provided at no charge to the older adult. For more information CLICK HERE.
Caregiver Directed Vouchers
Are you a caregiver in need of a break or a little extra help? Respite care enables caregivers to be temporarily relieved from their caregiving responsibilities. Caregiver Respite Vouchers are available. To see if you quality, contact the Kerr-Tar Area Agency on Aging at 252-436-2040 or complete the ONLINE FORM to see if you qualify.
Medicare Open Enrollment
Medicare Open Enrollment is October 15-December 7. Trained KTAAA staff will assist the region's senior centers with enrollment procedures adapted to the pandemic conditions. Billboard designs are in the works for the region to remind older adults to take advantage of the open enrollment services.
Supporting Long Term Care Facilities During COVID-19
As North Carolina’s key metrics continue to remain stable and strong infection prevention and control requirements remain in place, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services today issued a Secretarial Order updating visitation guidelines for nursing homes to allow indoor visitation.
“We have focused on protecting the health of nursing home residents since the start of this crisis. Our progress in testing, infection control and slowing the spread of COVID-19 in our communities allows us to move forward with safe indoor visitation in accordance with federal guidance,” said NCDHHS Secretary Mandy K. Cohen, M.D.
Indoor visitation will only be permitted in nursing homes with no COVID-19 cases in the last 14 days and in counties with a percent positive testing rate of less than 10%, reflecting guidance from the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.
The updated order reflects the state’s dimmer switch approach to responsibly ease restrictions, while maintaining strong prevention measures. North Carolina continues to build on the early and aggressive actions it took to protect nursing home residents and staff. In addition to restricting visitation at the start of the pandemic, the state has provided personal protective equipment; helped fill staffing shortages; provided infection prevention and control training, support teams and targeted funding; mandated testing; and completed on-site infection control inspections of North Carolina’s more than 400 nursing homes. 
Local community transmission levels are the key factor for nursing home outbreaks, emphasizing the importance of community-wide adoption of proven prevention practices (the 3 Ws). Facilities allowing in-person visitation will be required to follow strict infection prevention guidelines.

Throughout NCDHHS’s pandemic response, its five-point strategy for long-term care facilities has focused on prevention, staffing, testing, outbreak management and oversight. The department’s innovative universal testing strategy within skilled nursing facilities has been cited by the Rockefeller Foundation as a national model. 
Tune in to WIZS on Wednesday, October 14 to hear all about Medicare Fraud. As part of a special series presented by Kerr-Tar Area Agency on Aging, guest speaker Stephanie Bias with the Department of Justice will talk about how to protect yourself during Open Enrollment. You can listen live on 100.1 FM or 1450 AM at 11:00 am or you can go to wizs.com and listen at a later date. Be sure to let everyone know so they can listen as well!

You can also listen to the most recent episode on Voting at wizs.com, which is full of information about voting this year, with guest speaker Sennica Nicholson, Chairperson, Vance County Board of Elections.
The Caregiver's Cup
The Caregiver’s Cup will meet on Friday, October 9th at 12:00 PM at Sadie’s Coffee Corner in Henderson. Masks and social distancing are mandatory. If you are a caregiver, you are welcome to join us for this month! As a part of this social group, you will have the opportunity to connect with other caregivers, learn tips, and share ideas to help you in your caregiving journey! Contact Harvey Holmes at (252) 436-2040 or hholmes@kerrtarcog.org for details on how to join.
Essential Single-Family Rehabilitation Loan Pool Program for Vance & Person Counties
The Kerr-Tar Regional Council of Governments (“COG”) has been granted Membership by the North Carolina Housing Finance Agency (“NCHFA”) under the 2020 cycle of the Essential Single-Family Rehabilitation Loan Pool Program (“ESFRLP2020”) in Person and Vance counties. This program provides Members with funds via a “loan pool” to assist with the essential and critical repairs to single-family homes that are owned and occupied by lower-income households (less than 80% area median income) with one or more older adults (age 62+), disabled or Veteran fulltime household members and/or a child under the age of 6 who is at risk of identified lead hazards in the home.

Applications should be returned as soon as possible, but no later than November 2nd at noon to the Kerr-Tar Regional Council of Governments, PO Box 709, Henderson, NC 27536 or to 1724 Graham Avenue, Henderson. For more information and to apply, CLICK HERE.

All activities under ESFRLP2020, including rating and ranking applications, inviting bids, selecting contractors and resolving complaints, will be conducted in a fair, open and non-discriminatory manner, entirely without regard to race, color, religion, national origin, sex, familial status and disability.

Kerr-Tar Regional Council of Governments is an equal opportunity employer and service provider. Women, minorities, and underutilized businesses are invited to apply for contracts utilizing NCHFA Funding. Assistance or special aids for the handicapped or disabled are available upon request.
Urgent Repair Program
The Kerr-Tar Regional Council of Governments (COG) has been awarded $200,000 by the North Carolina Housing Finance Agency (NCHFA) under the 2020 cycle of the Urgent Repair Program to assist residents in the counties of Franklin, Granville, Person, Vance and Warren. The Urgent Repair program finances emergency home repairs for homeowners who are elderly or have special needs and whose incomes are below 50% of the median for the area.  Only repairs that address imminent threats to the life and/or safety of occupants of the dwelling unit or accessibility modifications will be performed under the program.  A total of 18 households are projected to be assisted.

In the Urgent Repair Program, one or two critical problems may be repaired, but the entire house is not addressed. Examples of work typically done under this program include roof or HVAC system repairs, well or septic system repairs, adding accessibility features like ramps, bathroom grab bars, and wider doors.

The COG will provide assistance to those whose homes are selected for repairs in the form of a loan. Homeowners will receive an unsecured deferred, interest-free loan, forgiven at a rate of $2,000 per year until the principal balance is reduced to zero.  The maximum amount of the loan available is $10,000.

Applications are available starting November 1, 2020 and must be returned to the COG office by 5:00 pm on November 1, 2020. Clients to be assisted will be selected by January 1, 2021. For more information, CLICK HERE.

The application and program information are available on the Kerr-Tar Regional COG website at www.kerrtarcog.org or by calling 252-436-2040. The funds provided by the NCHFA for the Urgent Repair Program come from the North Carolina Housing Trust Fund.
USDA to Provide Additional Direct Assistance to Farmers & Ranchers Impacted by the Coronavirus
The Office of the President and the Department of Agriculture announced last month an additional $14 billion dollars for agricultural producers who continue to face market disruptions and associated costs because of COVID-19. Sign up for the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program Expansion (CFAP 2) began on September 21 and will run through December 11, 2020.

The Department will use funds available from the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) Charter Act and CARES Act to support row crops, livestock, specialty crops, dairy, aquaculture, and many additional commodities. The USDA has incorporated improvements in CFAP 2 based from stakeholder engagement and public feedback to better meet the needs of impacted farmers and ranchers. See the following Press Release for more information on the CFAP 2 program.
GREAT Grant Program
The NC Department of Information Technology's Broadband Infrastructure Office is accepting applications under the Growing Rural Economies with Access to Technology (GREAT) Program. Through this program, grant funds are available to support private broadband service providers in Tier 1 and Tier 2 and rural census tracts within Tier 3 areas that are currently served by less than 25 megabytes per second download and 3 megabytes per second upload speed. Applications are due October 14, 2020. To learn more about the GREAT Grant Program, CLICK HERE.
Gov. Cooper Announces Additional $40 Million COVID Relief for Small Businesses
The NC Mortgage, Utility, and Rent Relief (MURR) for Small Businesses recently announced by Governor Cooper and administered through the North Carolina Department of Commerce can provide up to $20,000 in relief funds per qualifying business location. Business applicants from certain industry sectors identified below that have not been able to operate during the COVID period may apply for up to two of their business locations.

Applicants can apply for up to four months of mortgage interest or rent expenses, and utility expenses. The help offers relief for some of the fixed costs a business cannot easily control on its own. Applications to the program will open in October and will be handled on a first-come, first-serve basis. Applicants must certify that they were closed during the period of April 1 through July 31, 2020; they expect to be able to operate after the COVID crisis has passed; and they have not been reimbursed by any other federal source for the expenses for which they seek reimbursement through this program.

Eligible applicants include:
  • Amusement parks
  • Banquet Halls (with catering staff)
  • Bars, taverns, night clubs, cocktail lounges
  • Bingo parlors
  • Bowling alleys/centers
  • Dance halls
  • Indoor fitness and recreation centers
  • Motion picture/movie theaters (except drive-ins)
  • Museums

CLICK HERE for more information.
Monthly KTRPO Meeting Reminder
The next KTRPO TAC/TCC meeting will be held on Thursday, October 22 from 3:00-5:00 pm via Zoom. Committee members will receive more information as the meeting date approaches. A representative from NC Moves 2050 will provide members with draft recommendations and a final report on the future of transportation across North Carolina over the next 30 years.
Sustainable Fleet Technology Virtual Conference
Discover the latest and greatest in sustainable fleet technology, operations, and implementations at the 4th Annual Sustainable Fleet Technology Virtual Conference. The 2020 Conference will now be a series of webinar sessions on a variety of topics highlighting the leading edge of sustainable fleet practices and alternative fuel opportunities.

Each session, covering current technologies in the fleet industry, will feature several expert speakers from all around the country. Sessions will discuss the latest and greatest opportunities for biofuel, electric, natural gas, and propane fuels and fueling, with a strong focus on data-driven decisions, tools, and technologies. All webinar sessions will be offered free of charge. Save the dates and register below by clicking on the sessions you are interested in attending.

Fall 2020 Litter Sweep Cancelled
NCDOT needs your help after ongoing impacts from COVID-19 have cancelled the Department's Fall Litter Sweep. Traditionally scheduled for the last two weeks of April and September, the Litter Sweep is NCDOT's statewide roadside litter removal initiative.

Due to the second cancellation of the year, we need North Carolinians to step up more than ever. Not only is littering illegal, but it's also bad for the environment. Please help remove roadside litter and together let's keep North Carolina clean and beautiful. Please dispose of your litter properly and keep items in the back of trucks properly tied down.
Drone Program Competes for Top Transportation Award
The North Carolina Department of Transportation's Drone Program has been named a finalist for a national transportation award. the American Associate of State Highway and NCDOT officials have named the Department's Drone Medical Delivery program as one of the top projects in the 2020 America's Transportation Awards.

Last year, North Carolina's drone program teamed up with Matternet and UPS Flight Forward to operate a medical supply drone delivery service at the WakeMed Hospital campus in Raleigh. The service has greatly reduced wait times for life-saving blood test results and medical supplies.

You can assist the Department earn the People's Choice Award by visiting the America's Transportation Awards website and voting for NCDOT's drone program. The deadline to vote is October 25. Award winners will be announced in November.
Members of the NC Delegation Announce $47.5 Million Grant to Preserve Rail Corridor for Future Passenger Service
United States Senators Thom Tillis and Richard Burr along with US Representatives David Price (NC-4) and G. K. Butterfield (NC-1) announced that they secured a $47 million Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements (CRISI) grant from the US Department of Transportation to purchase the S-Line rail corridor from Raleigh to Ridgeway. The funding will be used to purchase right-of-way acquisition in order to improve passenger rail access and expand freight service. The S-Line currently serves as the missing link to the Southeast Corridor.
National Walk to School Day
This year's National Walk to School Day will look a bit different, in that it will be virtual. Organizers are encouraging families, neighborhoods, and schools to be creative in promoting physical activity in the midst of a national health crisis.

While Wednesday, October 7 is designated the official Walk to School Day, communities are welcome to participate in any day throughout the month. Participants may follow Walk & Bike to School Day on social media as well as post photos and videos using the hashtag #walktoschoolday.

Those interested in participating in this year's virtual event or learning about planning and event may do so by clicking HERE.
NC Real ID
Due to COVID-19, the original deadline for REAL ID was delayed a year. Starting October 1, 2021, federal agencies will require a REAL ID, U.S. passport or other form of federally-approved identification to board commercial flights and enter federal buildings or facilities. 
Free Public WiFi Map
We are currently in the process of creating a map showing free public internet access for students in our region. If you know of any free public WiFi locations, please send that information to Michael Kelly, mkelly@kerrtarcog.org or Beth Davis, bdavis@kerrtarcog.org and we will add it to the map. This information will be posted on the KTCOG website.
Regional Virtual Job Fair
The Kerr-Tar Workforce Development Board, Capital Area Workforce Development Board, and Durham Workforce Development Board are collaborating with the local NCWorks Career Centers to host a Regional Virtual Job Fair on Thursday, October 8th. A number of local companies will be represented with this first event and we expect to grow the list as we become more familiar with this new virtual platform. Feel free to use the linked flyer and help spread the word about the event. For more information, contact Lou Grillo, Workforce Development Director at 252-436-2040 or lgrillo@kerrtarcog.org.
Success Story: Overcoming Circumstances to Create Change
Delfine Lowder came to the NCWorks Career Center in Vance County in January 2020 seeking employment. After creating an NCWorks profile and browsing current openings, he met with a Career Advisor who learned that he was experiencing several barriers to employment. Mr. Lowder was open and upfront about his challenges, but also expressed the desire to change his circumstances. His career advisor referred Mr. Lowder to Talent Connect, where he met with a Business Services Representatives, and learned about Work Experiences and On the Job Training.

Mr. Lowder was enrolled in WIOA, and his updated resume was sent to Amcor Rigid Plastics in Youngsville. Due to Mr. Lowder’s limited work experience, he was offered a Service Technician position starting in February. Mr. Lowder overcame multiple personal challenges in his new position and his maturity in handling these setbacks drew him praise from his team at Amcor and at NCWorks.

Mr. Lowder successfully completed his Work Experience on May 21st and started a full-time permanent position as a Service Technician. Mr. Lowder’s story is an excellent example of partnership between agencies, an engaged and invested employer, and a highly motivated individual.
Workforce Development Professionals Month
This month, we recognize the significant contributions that frontline professionals make in our NCWorks system, whether they are employees of DWS, local workforce development boards, community colleges, or other organizations. Especially this year, we have seen how important workforce development professionals are to the people of our state. This outstanding team is helping to get North Carolina job-ready, connecting job seekers to employers, playing a key role in meeting our state’s post-secondary educational attainment goal, and responding to the unprecedented economic challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

To our workforce development professionals, thank you for everything you do! To see the proclamation, CLICK HERE.
Looking for a job?
In Other News...
Census 2020 Update
The 2020 Census is at a critical point. North Carolina--the 4th fastest growing and 9th largest--will lose $7.4 billion in funding with our current count. The consequences of that will be felt far into the future. This will be felt most locally, in your hometowns (roads, schools, emergency services, veterans services, senior care, early education programs, parks, infrastructure, economic development, and on and on. All residents are encouraged to complete their census questionnaires NOW.

Phone: 844-330-2020

According to the Census Bureau, Kerr-Tar's counties and the State of North Carolina have the following reported self-response rates as of September 29, 2020:

  • Franklin County: 61.7%
  • Granville County: 67.6%
  • Person County: 66%
  • Vance County: 57%
  • Warren County: 47%
  • North Carolina: 62.9%
  • United States: 66.5%
Join Our Growing Staff!
The Kerr-Tar COG has several openings that we would love to fill! If you or someone you know would be a great candidate, have the CLICK HERE for more details on each position. Currently, we have open positions for:

Open for Business Loan
Many small and local businesses in the Kerr-Tar Region have been negatively affected by COVID-19. In an effort to provide support to those businesses, the Kerr-Tar Regional Council of Governments is rolling out the Open for Business Loan Program. This loan program is designed to help small to medium size businesses recover from the economic effects of this pandemic.

The Open for Business Loan is a non-forgivable interest free loan, ranging from $10,000-$100,000. Eligible borrowers are small to medium size (1-99 employees) businesses who have been in business for at least 12 months and must be located in Franklin, Granville, Person, Vance or Warren counties. Documentation providing evidence of a loss of revenue since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic is required. All loans will require a personal guarantee and additional collateral. Funds can only be used for working capital and/or equipment and require an application fee of $200. Standard loan terms of 5 to 10 years. To apply, CLICK HERE.

The Open for Business Loan Program is locally administered, funded by the US Department of Commerce, Economic Development Administration with funds from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.  Applications are available on the Kerr-Tar COG website, or by calling Kerr-Tar Regional Council of Governments at 252-436-2040. Applications should be completed as soon as possible as funding is limited.
Warren County Tops State in Tourism Expenditures Growth in 2019
Domestic visitors to and within Warren County spent $31 million in 2019, an increase of 16.6% from 2018 ($26.65 million); this growth rate is the highest the county has seen going all the way back to 1990. This growth rate is the highest increase seen of all 100 counties in North Carolina from 2018 to 2019. The data comes from an annual study commissioned by Visit North Carolina, a unit of the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina.

2019 state tax revenue generated in Warren County totaled $1.13 million through state sales and excise taxes, and taxes on personal and corporate income. About $2.75 million in local taxes were generated from sales and property tax revenue from travel-generated and travel-supported businesses. This translates into about 194 in tax savings per resident in Warren County.
DHHS Interim Guidance for Fall-Related Events
Any scenario in which people gather together poses a risk for COVID-19 transmission. This includes fall-related events in North Carolina such as outdoor activities at farms, pumpkin patches, haunted houses/trails, and agritourism events. Organizers of fall-related events should create and implement a plan to minimize the opportunity for COVID-19 transmission. CLICK HERE to view the guidance from the NCDHHS for fall events. This guidance will help organizers reduce the spread of COVID-19 in their communities.
FEMA Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) makes federal funds available through the new Building Resilient Infrastructures & Communities (BRIC) grant program to states, local communities, tribes, and territories (SLTTs) for pre-disaster mitigation activities. BRIC is a new FEMA pre-disaster hazard mitigation program that replaces the existing Pre-Disaster Mitigation (PDM) program. The Disaster Recovery Reform Act, Section 1234, amended Section 203 of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief & Emergency Assistance Act (Stafford Act) and authorizes BRIC. The BRIC priorities are to:
  • Incentivize public infrastructure projects;
  • Incentivize projects that mitigate risk to one of more lifelines;
  • Incentivize projects that incorporate nature-based solutions; and
  • Incentivize adoption and enforcement of modern building codes.
NC Rural Center Presents "Building Higher Ground"
With the support of a generous grant from the American Red Cross, and in partnership with the North Carolina Office of Recovery & Resiliency, the NC Rural Center is excited to announce an introductory series of four FREE webinars during the month of October on community resilience to natural disasters.

Participating rural leaders will learn:
  • Key concepts that distinguish resilience strategies from natural disaster recovery practices
  • The climatic & economic conditions that make an adaptation of resilience strategies so critical
  • Practical resilience strategies communities can adopt
  • Principles and practices for inclusionary planning
  • Strategies to address the ongoing needs of rural leaders so they too can be as resilient as their communities

Click HERE to register and learn more.
Executive Director
Diane Cox

Area Agency on Aging
Nancy Francis

Planning & Development
Michael Kelly

Workforce Development
Lou Grillo

Mission Statement
Kerr-Tar Regional Council of Governments aims to
promote regionalism that provides opportunities for
local governments to enhance and improve the quality
of life for our citizens through effective delivery of
services and programs.
Kerr-Tar Regional Council of Governments
Contact Info:
252-436-2055 fax

Our mailing address is:
P.O. Box 709
Henderson, NC 27536