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Florence to Offer Aid to Those Behind on Utility Bills

Florence city council adopted a resolution to use federal community block development grant funds for residents who have fallen behind on utility bills.

The money comes from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act and Kentucky's share of CDBG funds for emergency payments on utility bills.

This grant is for $200,000, and in addition to the city, the Northern Kentucky Area Development District, Duke Energy, and Sanitation District 1 will take part.  

Residents will be able to apply for up to $250 per month for up to six months when the program formally launches.

Details of the program are still being worked out.

The Northern Kentucky Community Action Commission is prepared to help people apply for assistance.

In other business, Jones Middle School Principal Ryan Montgomery presented to council on his school, which had been one of the lower-performing schools in the state.

Most of the students at this school reside within the City of Florence, so he stated that this is a Florence school.

Montgomery said that the school has purchased a City of Florence flag, and will have a flag-raising soon, and he invited the city council and the mayor to come when the date is set.

Montgomery explained that a third of the student population speak a language other than English as their first language. 82 percent of the student body is on free or reduced lunch, he said.

"We are the eighth-highest English language school in Kentucky," he said, "and the thirteenth most diverse middle school in the state."

Mayor Diane Whalen offered her thanks for the presentation and said that the city government does not forget the east side of town, and that her father was one of the original teachers at Jones.

Councilman Mel Carroll said that he was principal at Ockermann Middle School, but that he also taught at Jones a few times, and he reiterated that the city has their back. He asked about the governor's recommendation that the students go back to school on a more full-time basis on March 1, and wanted to know what Montgomery thought about it.

"We're ready," Montgomery said firmly.

Council also voted to accept the two-year extension with Rumpke for waste collection, a move that will raise the annual cost for residents from $72 to $75.60.

-Patricia A. Scheyer, RCN contrinbutor

Photo: Ryan Montgomery presents to council

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