Commissioners Discuss COVID-19 OCRA Grant

(BEDFORD) – The Commissioners met Tuesday morning and said Lawrence County has been named a recipient of the Office of Community and Rural Affairs (OCRA) 2020 COVID-19 response program grant aimed to support economic development.

Southern Indiana Development Commission Project Coordinator Rex Knight held a public hearing on the grant award this morning.

The $250,000 grant will be used to provide Lawrence County businesses with working capital, resources required to remain operational during this downturn, and remote work support for those that are following the Governor’s stay at home order to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The proposed project will benefit at least 51% of low-to-moderate income residents and the businesses that employ them by providing funds to help them get through this unprecedented time.

The Lawrence County commissioners have decided to form a five-member grant committee, chaired by Lawrence County Human Resources Director Brian Skillman, to review applications from local small businesses who wish to apply for economic assistance.

Applicants must have at least one employee to qualify and be located in Lawrence County, excluding Mitchell. The City of Mitchell has received separate grant funding.

Southern Indiana Development Commission Project Coordinator Rex Knight

“We are still working out a few bugs and answering questions,” said Knight. “We don’t know for sure then these funds will be available. There are some processes we need to go through before they will be released.”

The grant committee will establish guidelines on how to distribute funds to area businesses based on their application and the total number of employees. Initially, Lawrence County believes the system will allow $5,000 per employee and a cap of $15,000 per business. Intake documentation will be completed following HUD guidelines to ensure the program benefits at least 51% of low-to-moderate income residents.  

Lawrence County Human Resources Director Brian Skillman

“We are doing good,” said Brian Skillman. “We have 10 businesses so far that have applied.”

Commissioner Rodney Fish

Commissioner Rodney Fish thanked SIDC for moving quickly and getting the grant process moving.

“I appreciate SIDC,” Fish added. “We would have missed the boat completely if not for them. We were within hours of getting the application in on time.”

Businesses can apply through the following sites:

All applications and required documentation must be completed and submitted by 5 p.m. on Friday, June 5, 2020.

For questions regarding the program, please contact Brian Skillman via
email at

The commissioners also formed the Cares Act Committee consists of the following members:

  • Commissioner Gene McCracken
  • Lawrence County Auditor Jody Edwards
  • Emergency Managment Director Valerie Luchauer
  • County Health Nurse Mary Kinser

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), legislation that was passed into law to provide relief to those who are impacted by the Coronavirus pandemic.

The committee meets and discusses how these resources can best serve Lawrence County.

In other business:

The Highway Department continues to patch county roads and mowing. Bridge crews are washing bridges.

Sheriff Mike Branham reported there were 114 inmates in the county jail this morning, of those 92 are males, 22 female, three Level 6 convicted felons, three Department of Correction holds, and no parole violators.

Sheriff Mike Branham

Sheriff Branham is also looking at visitor passes for those that enter the courthouses.

There was an incident when workers entered the building through the rear door and security didn’t know they were there.

“This way everyone will check-in at the security desk and obtain a pass before doing any business at the courthouses,” said Sheriff Branham.

Sheriff Branham also praised the security staff for their dedication in keeping everyone safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.

A county employee who has COVID-19 was at the courthouse conducting business before he knew he had the virus. After being confirmed positive for the virus, security was able to monitor that employee as they moved through the courthouse through security footage. The footage showed the employee was wearing a mask while in the courthouse. They also alerted those he came into contact with at the courthouse of possible exposure.