Violet Township distributes nearly $65K in CARES Act funding

Nate Ellis
ThisWeek group
Arrows line the flooring guiding visitors through the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame Museum, 13515 Yarmouth Drive. The museum was one of 15 businesses and nonprofit organizations to received funds from Violet Township as part of the CARES Act.

Fifteen businesses and nonprofit organizations recently received nearly $65,000 in combined grants after Violet Township officials distributed federal money allocated in response to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. 

One of those is Heather Kluth, who’s had a difficult time since she opened Visage Studio Salon at 10400 Blacklick-Eastern Road, Suite 120, last November. 

Just four months later, the pandemic hit and a state order forced her to close her salon and spa room for two months. She didn’t qualify for some assistance programs because her business was so new and she doesn’t have a payroll because the stylists who work at the salon are self-employed. 

“During that time, I was still required to pay my rent and all my bills that came with the business,” Kluth said. “I had to take out a (small-business) loan and had all these expenses.” 

Despite the struggle, which included asking clients and her landlord for patience, Kluth's business has been able to survive. She received a shot in the arm Nov. 4 when the Violet Township trustees awarded her a $7,394.54 grant. 

Trustees awarded the funds to local businesses and nonprofits with money provided to them by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security, or CARES, Act. 

“It’s amazing the township did this,” Kluth said. “They went above and beyond in finding a fair way to distribute this money. I’m still behind, but this grant was a big weight off my chest.” 

At a time when state health-and-safety requirements have forced her to halve the number of clients her salon can serve at one time, Kluth is using the funds to pay her rent. 

Many others, including the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame Museum, 13515 Yarmouth Drive, are using their grants to offset costs of purchasing personal protective equipment such as face masks, as well as sanitation supplies. 

Steve Austin, director of operations for the museum, said the organization initially used its subgrant to offset operational costs to reopen. That included spending two weeks sanitizing and prepping the facility. 

All told, the museum used its $5,543.71 to buy 300 face masks, five gallons of hand sanitizer, a protective partition, directional signs for visitors, several cases of disinfecting wipes and five trash cans. 

“Violet Township has done a fantastic job supporting local businesses with this program, and the Hall of Fame is grateful to the trustees for the award,” he said. “We reconfigured common areas to enable social distancing, made signs, disinfected high-touch areas and bought face coverings for staff members and visitors. 

“In addition, we installed pathway directional arrows, hand-sanitizing stations and a clear protective partition for the reception desk.” 

In all, the township distributed $64,999.60 in to 15 entities. In addition to Visage and the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame, recipients included: 

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The Pickerington Youth Athletic Association, $7,192.41, for PPE and sanitation supplies. 

Rule (3), $5,867.68, for PPE and sanitation supplies. 

Huguenin Dental, $4,842.40, for PPE and sanitation supplies. 

Dairy Queen, $3,632.17, for PPE and sanitation supplies. 

Paint & Escape LLC, $6,794.36, for rent assistance. 

Pickerington Food Pantry, $2,232, for food purchases. 

American Legion Post 283, $3,254.97, for PPE and sanitation supplies. 

Little Tigers Preschool, $6,524.16, for PPE and sanitation supplies. 

Sam’s Pumpkin Patch, $877.20, for PPE and sanitation supplies. 

Ryker McDyker LLC, $2,012.50, for rent assistance. 

Kathleen Andres, $2,012.50, for rent assistance. 

Impact Performance & Therapy, $2,700, for rent assistance. 

Pickerington Community Theatre, $4,128, for rent assistance. 

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Violet Township Economic Development Director Robin Duffee credited township Fiscal Officer Vanessa Niekamp for spearheading the effort to spread the word to local businesses and nonprofits about the availability of CARES Act assistance. He said she also did the lion’s share of the work in processing applications for the funding to ensure subgrants were properly allocated and disbursed. 

Duffee said township officials supported distributing assistance to all it could because of the “enormous challenges” the pandemic has presented to small businesses and nonprofits. That has included altering business practices and drop-offs in revenues, he said. 

“Because of the provisions laid out in the CARES Act at the federal level, we knew that we couldn’t replace lost revenue for many of the businesses in Violet Township, but we knew that we could help out with reimbursements for COVID-related expenses, such as personal protective equipment, additional cleaning or other safety-related improvements that could help a business operate during these challenging times,” Duffee said. “This was a great opportunity for Violet Township to funnel some of those federal funds to the local business community where they are badly needed. 

“Our hope is that the subgrant funds will help support our local businesses and nonprofits and allow them to continue operating until the pandemic subsides,” Duffee said. “I’m very pleased that Violet Township was able to offer the subgrant program, and those funds will make a real difference in the community and in people’s lives. It may be a cliché, but we are all in this together.” 

Austin said the assistance helped the AMA Motorcycle Heritage Foundation, which administers the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame Museum, replenish PPE and other supplies required to keep the museum safe for staff and visitors at a time when museum visits are down by roughly 30%.   

“Due to the coronavirus pandemic, many events on which the foundation depends for its success were canceled,” he said. “The financial assistance provided by the CARES Act grant was instrumental in the safe and timely reopening of the museum.” 

Kluth said her business at the salon remains touch-and-go, in part because she’s still trying to catch up from the first shutdown and because the threat of another state-ordered closure looms, with coronavirus cases surging in Fairfield County and throughout Ohio. 

Still, she said the CARES subgrant “absolutely” helped her stay in business and deal with financial strains, which are her largest source of stress right now. 

“I’m so grateful Violet Township went above and beyond in distributing this assistance to businesses in the community,” Kluth said. “I just want to express my gratitude to the community and Violet Township and pray that we make it through this pandemic together.” 

nellis@thisweeknews.com 

@ThisWeekNate