Blooming Prairie Police Station Stock Photo

Blooming Prairie Police Station (Ashley Rezachek/southernminn.com)

Blooming Prairie Police Department will be using some of its federal COVID-19 funding to purchase encrypted radios, which prohibit the public from hearing the calls.

The Blooming Prairie City Council approved Monday spending its the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act to purchase seven encrypted portable radios. City Administrator Andrew Langholz also gave the council an update on the city’s spending of other CARES funds and an update on the Blooming Prairie CARES Business Grant Program.

Under one of Gov. Tim Walz’s emergency executive orders, cities are allowed to purchase portable and vehicle-mounted radios for its police and first responders, with the requirement that the radios be encrypted, according to Langholz. The executive order limits the information a 911 dispatcher can share about whether a person has COVID-19 to first responders via a system that can be heard by the public.

The Blooming Prairie Police Department’s current radios aren’t encrypted and were due to be replaced in the next couple years, Langholz said. The current radios don’t have a trade-in value and will be shared with the city’s Fire and Public Works departments, Langholz said.

Owatonna Heating and Cooling received a building permit to replace five furnaces in City Hall in an effort to improve air quality. Work on that project has begun. Updates to make City Hall’s bathrooms touch-free have been completed with touchless toilets, faucets and soap dispensers.

In September, the city council approved moving forward with the purchase of an audio visual system, with the intent on streaming future meetings to the public. A bid was accepted for the project from AVI Systems Inc. for $12,481. The upgrade is scheduled for early November.

A total of seven applications for the Blooming Prairie CARES Business Grant Program were received by the deadline on Oct. 12, according to Langholz. Requests were capped at $5,000 and a total of $33,000 was requested.

“We did say we’d be able to increase it,” Langholz said, adding that the city allotted $41,000 to the program and the county allotted $34,000.

The application encouraged businesses to provide their full eligible expenses in case the city had some extra funds to distribute. Since only seven businesses applied, those businesses which are eligible may receive more.

According to the CARES Act, the funding must be spent by Nov. 15 or returned to the county.

The Blooming Prairie Economic Development Authority approved that tier one businesses, which were closed by state mandate and/or were required to operate at 50% capacity, could receive a maximum of $15,000 and tire two businesses, who had proven negative impacts from the pandemic but weren’t mandated to close, could receive a maximum of $10,500.

Langholz is currently determining the eligibility to receive the funding for the businesses who applied. Applicants with incomplete applications will have one week after being contacted to submit proper documentation. The city will award grant funds and notify businesses during the week of Oct. 26 and the city will distribute funds by check the week of Nov. 2.

Reach reporter Ashley Rezachek at 507-444-2376. ©Copyright 2020 APG Media of Southern Minnesota. All rights reserved.

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