Sussex County small-business grant program open

The Sussex County small-business grant program is open for applications, Commissioners Director Anthony Fasano said at the Board of County Commissioners meeting Dec. 28.

Small businesses and nonprofit organizations that qualify may apply for grants of up to $15,000 online at sussexcountysbg.com.

The board has dedicated $2 million of its American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding to the program, and a handful of businesses already have applied, Fasano said. The federal funds were part of the $1.9 trillion economic stimulus bill passed by Congress in 2021.

“Small businesses and nonprofit organizations remain the economic backbone of our community. Sussex County is providing this opportunity for direct financial assistance to ensure their survival, their recovery and their ultimate success,” he said.

”I fully anticipate this funding to generate a really strong return on investment for Sussex County.”

To qualify, a business must have been legally established in Sussex County since Jan. 1, 2019. Its annual revenue must be less than $4 million, and it must have had 50 or fewer full-time employees as of March 3, 2021.

The costs to be reimbursed by the grants must have been incurred on or after March 3, 2021, and the applicant must have experienced a documented decline in sales or an increase in expenses directly related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Health Report

Commissioner Dawn Fantasia reported that Sussex County is in the yellow, or moderate, zone for COVID-19 cases, with about 35 cases reported daily.

Thirty-nine people in the county were hospitalized with the disease in December compared with 42 in November and 82 in October.

COVID-19 vaccines and boosters will be provided from 2 to 4 pm Wednesday, Jan. 11 and from 3 to 5 pm Wednesday, Jan, 25 at the Office of Public Health Nursing, 201 Wheatsworth Road, Hamburg. No appointments are necessary.

For flu activity, Sussex County is at a high level as is all of New Jersey. Two children have died of the flu statewide, Fantasia said.

The school absenteeism rate related to the flu in Sussex County as of Dec. 20 was the highest in the state at 12.63 percent. The percentage of emergency-room visits for the flu was 6.67, putting Sussex in the middle of New Jersey counties.

“It is hitting our younger population harder,” she said.

There were six outbreaks of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) in schools and day-care centers in Sussex County. There also were four flu outbreaks and four COVID-19 outbreaks in schools, five COVID-19 outbreaks in long-term-care facilities and one COVID-19 outbreak in an acute-care facility.

Fasano’s last meeting

The meeting was the last for Fasano, who did not seek re-election.

Commissioner Jill Space, who was absent from the meeting, sent a message, praising Fasano’s strong leadership skills.

Fantasia said he brought new ideas to the board, especially regarding use of ARPA funding.

Deputy Director Chris Carney said he and Fasano have learned from each other. “I am proud to call you a colleague. But I am proud to call you a friend.”

Fasano thanked the commissioners, county employees, “countless municipal, business and nonprofit leaders for their work with us and, of course, the people of Sussex County for trusting me in this position.”

”It has been an absolute honor to be a county commissioner here and I’m extremely confident in Sussex County’s future and most importantly its people.”

Space, who was appointed to fill an unexpired term on the board from May 1 to Dec. 31, will be sworn in to a full three-year term at the annual reorganization meeting at 6 pm Wednesday, Jan. 4 at the Sussex County Community College’s Performing Arts Center, 1 College Hill Road, Newton.

New Commissioner William Hayden also will take the oath of office then as will Sheriff Michael Strada.

Space and Hayden, both Republicans, defeated Democrats Camila DiResta and Damaris Lira in the Nov. 8 election.

Strada, a Republican who has been sheriff since 2011, also won re-election in November.

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