By Carol Vaughn –
About 300 vehicles, and probably around 1,000 people, took part in the Christmas event behind the wheel of Onancock, according to general manager Matt Spuck, who called it “one of the most beautiful and beautiful Christmas events. most memorable “.
City Councilor Maphis Oswald, speaking at the December 21 city council meeting, said comments on the event were positive.
“Everyone was so grateful for having something to do and the holiday spirit – and the hosts were happy to provide it,” she said.
“It was just awesome. The whole town kind of came together. People who weren’t even on the tour decorated their homes, ”said Mayor Fletcher Fosque.
Spuck, in his report to council, said a block community development grant of $ 430,000 had been awarded to the city to help local businesses. An application form is being developed and must be approved by the agency before companies can apply for funds.
The city has one year to distribute the funds.
Onancock Main Street helps administer and disseminate information about the grant.
“We want to help as many businesses as possible qualify for the money, so we’re going to run workshops; we will be doing Zoom training sessions. We’re going to do all kinds of things to make sure all of our businesses have the support they need to fulfill (the request), ”Spuck said.
A bilingual person on the grant team will be able to speak and advocate for business owners who speak a language other than English.
All of the CARES Act funds allocated to the city by Accomack County have been spent, Spuck said.
Onancock received two stipends of $ 106,333 each.
“We the staff felt really great with the utility grants approved by the council. We’ve been able to help over 40 clients in need with grants to help pay for their sewers and water, just at a time of year when money is getting incredibly tight in a good year, ”Spuck said, adding that the total grant amount was $ 20,000.
In addition, the city has distributed over $ 100,000 in grants to businesses.
The city also received a grant of more than $ 21,000 to help water and sewer service customers whose accounts are over 60 days past due as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Another grant application, to FEMA, has been submitted and, if approved, will award the city approximately $ 5,000 for expenses related to COVID-19.
An Onancock Wharf boat launch renovation project is slated to start this month.
Spuck said the Hampton Roads Sanitation District was hit by a phishing scam in November, which triggered ransomware and caused HRSD to lose “a huge amount of productivity, where they were almost shut down during the most of two and a half weeks “.
Spuck told the board he spoke to Ted Henifin, managing director of HRSD, earlier today, Dec. 21, “about how we are going to move our project forward with them.”
“They get a VRA (Virginia Resources Authority) loan. They already have the approval and everything. It will be for their portion of the pipeline. Part of this VRA loan will be used to pay off some of our debt, ”Spuck said.
A contract with HRSD to ensure the city will accept Nassawadox wastewater for treatment at the Onancock plant has undergone some minor language revisions and will be completed and presented to the Department of Environmental Quality.
“Once DEQ gets that contract – they’ve already received the request for the qualified project at Nassawadox – it’s going to spur things to move forward very quickly,” Spuck said, adding, “The next trigger points are when the loan is closed. VRA for RHDC, when presenting the Nassawadox contract to DEQ. These two issues, when resolved, we will have a very clear timeline to move forward and that is when we will start negotiations very clear.
Spuck said that in the meantime he will meet with HRDC’s director of human resources to discuss what the transition of employees from the city’s wastewater treatment facilities to HRDC will look like.
“I want to make sure that when transitioning the asset, we also make sure that we take very, very good care of our people,” he said.