Home City Utility relief funds to soon be available to Athens’ residents

Utility relief funds to soon be available to Athens’ residents

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Athens City Council approved a partnership with Hocking Athens Perry Community Action (HAPCAP) during its Monday meeting to administer a utility relief grant for the city.

The grant, called the COVID-19 City Utility Relief Grant Program, will be an extension of the work HAPCAP has already been doing to assist those impacted financially by the coronavirus pandemic.

Since March, HAPCAP has worked to provide Southeast Ohioans with basic needs such as supplying food and advocating for leniency in water shutoffs.

Athens Mayor Steve Patterson said time will be an important factor — he speculated that the grant application will be open in less than a week.

Councilmember Sarah Grace said the ordinance is a “really important measure for citizens who happen to be struggling paying their utilities.” 

Councilmembers also discussed how Halloween will be different this year, with events such as the block party and trick-or-treating on Court Street canceled. Other activities, such as hayrides, haunted houses and general trick-or-treating should be approached with caution, Patterson said.

Councilmember Chris Fahl said it will be important for those participating in Halloween activities to follow the city’s mask mandate and for families to consider alternatives to traditional trick-or-treating, such as leaving candy outside for trick-or-treaters.

Patterson also said Ohio University will be testing 200 asymptomatic people for COVID-19 per week in a partnership with CVS.

He noted that with this increase in testing, positive cases will also increase. Since some students have returned to Athens, there has been an increase in confirmed COVID-19 cases in the county. While the rate of confirmed cases is increasing, the increase is not as steep as it was in July, Patterson said.

Emily Zeiler contributed to this report.

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