Tusayan approves additional $45,000 to aid residents and students
TUSAYAN, Ariz. – The Tusayan Town Council met March 24 to discuss current events related to the economic challenges because of the COVID-19 precautions and closures underway. The two main challenges the town is facing are meeting food requirements for residents in need and providing assistance to students who are now required to attend school online.
Since initial COVID-19 precautions began, councilmembers have worked in conjunction with the Tusayan Fire Department and Tusayan Food Bank to provide food and other items to residents in need. The usual source of these needs, St. Mary’s Food Bank, is currently unable to provide because of a variety of issues relating to increased need, shortages and sourcing.
The council had initially approved $25,000 to assist with purchasing food for residents and students, which was then divided between the Tusayan Food Bank and Grand Canyon School. However, councilmembers have taken into account the continued need to provide, and has determined that more assistance will be required. Based on the amount already spent, estimated at $13,995 since the initial $25,000 was approved March 18, the council determined the current budget would be depleted at the continuing rate of expenditure.
Tusayan Mayor Craig Sanderson declared a state of emergency March 19 to begin the process of preparing to receive federal, state and county aid, as the current state limits restrict the available budget to under $1.4 million. However, the process required will take up to 2-3 weeks before those funds will become available.
At the moment, the town is utilizing its own resources to provide aid, which now also includes assisting students currently transitioning to online classes. Grand Canyon School Principal Matt Yost estimates around 45 students in the Tusayan/ Valle area are currently without computers or internet access.
The council vowed to “leave no student behind” and discussed needed items with Yost, as well as Grand Canyon School Superintendent Shonny Bria, who provided a list of items as well as an estimate of the cost to procure these items. Items include chromebooks and potential hotspot devices.
Other items of note during the special meeting were related to potential needs facing the town in the coming months, such as utility assistance and medical benefits access for residents, as well as other services, such as laundry, as many businesses will not reopen until May. Business owners have also discussed consultation with Small Business Association (SBA), to provide loan options for those businesses in need.
Sanderson state that he remains hopeful, and commended the town for its adherence to social distancing and other CDC recommendations. He assured everyone that the town will continue to take care of its residents during the ongoing crisis.
Residents can sign up to receive food packages at https://spiritofthecanyon.com/food/
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