Jeremy D. Wells
Carter County Times
It was a rainy afternoon outside, but inside the Genesis Recovery Center in Grayson last Friday, Governor Andy Beshear was all sunshine and optimism. The governor, visiting the center to present them with a check to cover COVID related funding losses, touted the state’s strong recovery from the pandemic and a record setting sales tax month in April. He also encouraged participants in the Genesis program to stay the course, so they could enjoy the benefits of the recovery as they complete their program.
“I feel like we’re moving from this time of great difficulty to this time of great prosperity,” he said. “But just like during COVID, we all have to be in it together. We have to live for one another… and take that same connection into the 15 months or two years ahead. Because I don’t believe Kentucky experiences prosperity unless we all get a chance at it.”
“I’m honored to be among everybody here that’s fighting to get better. That is here putting in the work,” the governor continued. “Maybe you have a family at home that you want to get back to. Maybe have a job that you want to get back to. Well, you know what, there are going to be good jobs on the horizon and, let me tell you, we need you. We need you as the great dads I know you want to get back to being. But we also need you as part of this workforce, and this exciting optimism and prosperity that’s coming before us.”
“I know that sometimes people may look at you and judge,” he said. “But you’re working. You’re doing the hard work, and being here. I think that says more about them than it ever will any of y’all.”
The check presented to Genesis, through the Carter County Fiscal Court, comes from Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds available through the state.
Genesis Director Chris Branham explained that the funds are helpful because even though participation and funding dropped during the pandemic, costs did not. In fact, he said, they went up as staff moved to implement new sanitation protocols to combat the virus.
“When the pandemic struck, we had a situation where we were on hold and no longer doing any intake,” Branham said. “We have a contracted situation with the department of corrections. That gives us 60 percent of our bed space, which is also our income.”
That drop in resources, ironically, coincided with a spike in need for the resources that Genesis provides as uncertainty surrounding the virus led to more stress for those in recovery.
“With that drop… during the pandemic a lot of our guys got a fear of the unknown, fear of the virus, of what could happen,” he said. “A lot of things were going on early on – we’re talking March, April – things happening really quick. So, we went from 90 plus men down to 40 men in a matter of weeks, and that effected our revenue stream. But everything else kept going as normal – facility is still open, we’ve still got guys here, staffing, we’re having to add more protocols, we’re having to add more barriers and levels of protection, sanitation, more staff rounds – and for one month we had a hold. Nobody else is coming in, but we still had clients leaving.”
Eventually they were able to come up with a protocol that enabled them to bring in new clients, keeping them in quarantine for 14 days to be sure they were not infected with the virus. But this didn’t do anything to help with revenue that was already lost. Other government agencies were also in a holding pattern as the state began adjusting to the “new normal” of the quarantine.
“There’s the impact,” the director explained. “You go from expecting (full funding) to half your revenue is gone.”
The $200,000 in CDBG funds presented by the governor, Branham said, almost exactly matches their budget shortfall.
“It’s right where we’re at, plus or minus,” he said. “But we’re a whole lot better off with that than what we would have been, because of all the things we had to do to adjust, and to make it.”
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