Sep. 27—Pittsburg County commissioners amended their original resolution Monday regarding their plans to use American Rescue Plan funds, providing details of how they intend to spend the money.
Commissioners placed the project under Category 1 guidelines, in line with capital investments in public facilities to meet pandemic operational needs.
They still plan on using a portion of the American Rescue Plan money to upgrade parts of the Expo Center in McAlester.
Their amended resolution states the project will consist of upgrades to the HVAC, or heat and air units, as well as the security system, water infrastructure, sewer infrastructure "and other capital investments in public facilities to meet pandemic operational needs."
The Expo has been a central part of meeting those needs, commissioners noted in the amended resolution.
"The Pittsburg County Expo Center has been designated as a testing facility and a vaccination facility and could be used as a field hospital if the need arises," county commissioners said in the amended resolution. "It has also been added to the Pittsburg County Emergency Operations Plan," they noted.
District 2 Commissioner Kevin Smith said the amended measure provides details about how the commissioners want to utilize the American Rescue Plan funds. He and District 1 Commissioner Charlie Rodger passed the amended measure Monday. District 3 Commissioner Ross Selman was not present.
Pittsburg County is set to receive a total of $8,429,278 in American Rescue Plan funds. The county received the first half of the payment, totaling $4,239,639, on May 26 and is scheduled to get the other half in 2022.
County commissioners said in August they reviewed requirements on how the money can be spent and determined the Expo Center qualifies. They also noted at that time the Expo Center has been used as a staging area for a number of COVID-19 outreach vaccination clinics; it's also been designated as a COVID-19 testing facility and could be used as a field hospital, if needed.
"It's pretty clear; it fit the guidelines," District 2 Commissioner Kevin Smith previously said of utilizing the American Rescue Act funds for the Expo Center.
Commissioners are still awaiting reports from engineers who have been through the Expo Center and are assessing the costs — including estimated costs to provide heat and air to the large west end of the Expo Center, which is used for everything from rodeos to basketball games and concerts.
While commissioners are still hoping to upgrade the entire facility, they've also noted the current heat and air conditioning system already in place for the east side of the building also needs work.
Commissioners stated in the August resolution they had carefully reviewed the Interim Final Rule for the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 and believe the Expo Center project qualifies. They approved the project to be tracked and recorded by the required Interim Final Rule related to the federal funds.
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