Marshall County updates related to the coronavirus pandemic: May 22

The following updates related to the pandemic are provided for free at marysvilleonline.net. If you would like to support community journalism in Marshall County, please subscribe by calling the Advocate at 785-562-2317 or email circulation@marysvilleonline.net. Thank you.

Blue Rapids Presbyterian

The Blue Rapids United Presbyterian Church 150th anniversary worship service, which was to be in person on Sunday, will be held as an online worship service. The service includes special pieces recognizing the celebration and they hope to gather in person at a later date, said Pastor Shannon Borgman.

"I think the Marysville church will have some of the similar things going on," she said. "And if the fall is as predicted, we might find ourselves online for the Frankfort Presbyterian Church. "

Flags at half-staff

Gov. Laura Kelly has ordered flags throughout the state of Kansas to be flown at half-staff from sun up to noon on Mondy. President Donald J. Trump also issued a flag directive honoring Memorial Day as a day of prayer for permanent peace.

“The military service women and men of this country have dedicated themselves to protecting the American way of life,” Kelly said. “We owe our most sincere gratitude and respect to the generations of military personnel who made the ultimate sacrifice while serving in the United States Armed Forces.”

The Memorial Day flag directive will follow the current order to lower flags to half-staff in honor of victims of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Food support

The Kansas Department for Children and Families in collaboration with the Kansas State Department of Education has created the Pandemic Electronic Benefit Program (P-EBT). The program will help families who have been impacted by school closures due to COVID-19 to purchase food for their children.

“We know the pandemic has made it difficult for families to access food, especially if they relied on school meals,” Gov. Laura Kelly said. “Thanks to the partnership between DCF and KSDE the state will be able to automatically enroll most families into the P-EBT program, so they receive their benefit as quickly as possible.”

“Food insecurity should be the last thing our Kansas children should have to face right now,” Cheryl Johnson KSDE director of child nutrition and wellness said. “P-EBT provides temporary funding to address emergency food needs and avert financial hardship for families affected by the pandemic.”

P-EBT provides a one-time benefit of up to $291 on a Kansas Benefits Card to Kansas families whose children between the age of 5 to 18 would receive free or reduced-price meals at participating schools.There is no application process to receive the P-EBT benefit.

DCF will issue the benefit in phases. Those Kansas families who currently receive free or reduced-price meals and are enrolled in the food assistance or TANF programs should begin to receive their benefit later this week.

The second phase also will include an automatic match with those families on free or reduced-price meals and who also are receiving Medicaid or child care assistance.

The final phase will include families that need to provide additional information to receive the benefit. Those families will receive access to a parent portal to register for the program beginning June 5. Parents should receive information from their school district on how to access the parent portal.

“Most families should expect to see their benefit in the next two weeks,” DCF Secretary Laura Howard said. “If families have not yet received information about P-EBT, I encourage them to reach out to their local school district.” 

Food pantry update

Beginning Thursday, June 4, the Marshall County Helping Hands Food Pantry, Marysville, will resume serving families from inside the building.

Only two to three people at a time will be allowed inside.

When people arrive, they will get a number from an outside volunteer and then will remain in their car until their number is called. They will then check in and shop for food.

Only one family member will be allowed to go inside. This rule will be strictly enforced, Pantry organizers said.

Hours are 3 to 5 p.m. on Thursdays. The pantry is at 401 Calhoun St.

Utility late fees

An order issued by the Kansas Corporation Commission this morning requires utilities under its jurisdiction to offer 12-month payment plans and waive late fees through the end of the year to help residential and small business customers avoid disconnection.

The Commission’s earlier order suspending disconnections is set to expire on May 31. Today’s order will help customers, struggling with the economic effects of COVID-19, pay off past due balances gradually while avoiding disconnection of service. Customers are also encouraged to apply for available utility assistance programs. Information is posted on the KCC website (https://kcc.ks.gov/consumer-information/utility-assistance-programs).

KCC staff filed a report with the Commission on May 6 recommending baseline customer protections prior to the end of the disconnect suspension order. Utilities had the opportunity to respond to the recommendations prior to today’s order. Several utilities have advised they plan to offer protections in excess of the minimums required.

The order states utilities may defer any extraordinary bad debt expense and lost fee revenue that arises from the required customer protections into a regulatory asset for accounting purposes only. Any recovery requests will be considered in a utility’s next rate case or rate recovery filing.

The Commission may extend the consumer protections outlined in today’s order if the COVID-19 pandemic stretches into 2021.

Virtual job fair

The fifth annual Statewide Job Fair is going virtual, and employers from across the state will be hiring. The job fair will take place from 8 a.m. Wednesday, May 27, to Thursday, May 28, 5 p.m. If you would like to chat live with any of the employer participants, you can do so Wednesday, May 27, from 10 a.m.–2 p.m.

For more information and to pre-register for the event, please visit kansasworksvirtualjobfair.easyvirtualfair.com.