UPDATED: Mon County Delegate asks for $25 million in CARES money to shore up bars, businesses

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Mon County Delegate John Williams has sent a letter to governor Jim Justice asking for $25 million in CARES Act funding for small businesses and bars. The letter cites the dependence of the local economy on the student population, the ongoing mandated closure and the fact that similar business in 54 other counties in the state remain open.

Williams said in part,“I agree with measures that have been taken in mitigating transmission, and I do not write to oppose them. I do write to you today however, to ask that our uniquely affected businesses be indemnified in their time of greatest need.”

Justice first announced the bar closures on July 13. The bars were reopened Monday, August 31 and quickly closed the following Tuesday when images of hundreds of students without masks, not social distancing began appearing on social media.

Many bar owners have said privately this second shut down following the initial stay at home order could put them out of business for good.

In a telephone interview with WAJR News, Delegate Williams noted the significant tax contribution Mon County, likely more than $25 million, and asked the governor to consider the potential lasting impact.

“While I believe in the success of the $5,000 grant program that’s been going on the last couple of months,”Williams said,”I believe that Mon County and the businesses, because they are uniquely effected, they deserve this solution.”

Williams went on to say in the letter,“I have been tremendously supportive of, and appreciative of, the CARES Act funds that you put towards small business grants. With that in mind, I respectfully request that you allocate an additional $25 million in small business grants for Monongalia County bars and other industries that have been affected. While this amount may seem high at first glance, I believe it is fair and proportional based upon tax collection figures from our county.”

“The CARES Act funds are meant to stretch us as long as we can,”Williams said via phone,”I felt the $25 million was a good number to try to get us through this difficult time.”