HONESDALE, PA — “The ability to conduct case assessment is an innate talent that can’t be taught,” said Child and Youth Services manager Stephanie Bryant at the Wayne County …
HONESDALE, PA — “The ability to conduct case assessment is an innate talent that can’t be taught,” said Child and Youth Services manager Stephanie Bryant at the Wayne County Commissioners August 26 meeting. Speaking in glowing terms of county caseworker Dominique Bayly on her first-year service anniversary, Bryant said Bayly had the ability to earn people’s trust and confidence, an all-important asset for any human services employee.
“And what a year it was to start a career in human services,” remarked Commissioner Jocelyn Cramer, referring to the overwhelming economic and social challenges resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, which left no aspect of contemporary society untouched. “How did you do it, especially with no prior human services experience?”
Bayly said simply, “My passion is helping children and their families.”
To which Cramer replied, “Your passion, compassion and commitment have served the county well.”
Much of the remainder of the public meeting was devoted to lessening some of the more disruptive consequences of the pandemic. The commissioners unanimously approved a motion to extend a contract for pandemic-related emergency housing resources through June 30, 2022. The $143,788 contract is intended to help provide emergency housing for renters who have been evicted, are in danger of imminent eviction or are currently living in substandard housing, due to pandemic-related loss of income.
Their action comes in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court decision to end the federal eviction moratorium, which has been in place since March of 2020. The court voted 6-3 to support landlords seeking to evict tenants for nonpayment of rent going back to the start of the moratorium.
Homeless Wayne County residents and those at risk of homelessness because of inability to make rent payments are urged to seek assistance from the county’s housing office. More information is available on the county’s website at www.bit.ly/2UXF0k5, or by phone at 570/253-6758. Those without PC and/or internet access are advised to use the free computer resources available at public libraries.
The commissioners also approved a motion to enter into a Memorandum of Understanding for Cooperative Professional Services agreement with the townships of Berlin, Cherry Ridge, Oregon, Dyberry and Palmyra, as well as Hawley Borough. The agreement will secure the services of Zelenkofske Axelrod LLC, an accounting firm, that will advise the county and its participating municipalities on accessing the $9 million in federal funds available to the county through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).
ARPA was created to help the nation recover fully from the disruptive effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. ARPA funds must be spent within four years, and come with strict eligibility criteria and rigorous reporting requirements. Zelenkofske will ensure that all participating municipalities’ funding applications and reporting requirements are fully compliant with ARPA guidelines.
Cramer noted that municipalities that have not yet signed the cooperative services agreement may still do so, although it should be done before the first reporting deadline in October. Honesdale Borough tabled its decision to sign the agreement until the September 13 borough council meeting.
A press release dated August 26 stated that “the commissioners are working to establish a task force that would help the county and municipalities collaborate and coordinate to ensure maximum impact from the funding.” Wayne County Chief Financial Officer Vicky Botjer said, “Wayne County has an amazing opportunity, and we want to make sure we approach it strategically.”