The Guilford County Board of Commissioners used an afternoon work session on Thursday, August 4 to spend millions in federal money provided by the American Rescue Plan Act – money meant to help provide economic relief from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The board decided to use the money to hire fire fighters, make improvements in paramedic training and support the local Foster Parent program among other things.

Guilford County received $104 million in Rescue Plan money in two payments – one in July of last year and one in July of this year. About 2,200 Guilford County residents provided input to the commissioners on what the county’s priorities should be for the money.

During the August 4 work session, the board heard various proposals including the wants and needs of the City of Greensboro and the towns of Stokesdale, Oak Ridge, Pleasant Garden, Gibsonville and Summerfield.

Chairman of the Guilford County Board of Commissioners Skip Alston said the magnitude of the requests “demonstrates the tremendous need in our community.”

There’s plenty more money to be spent; however, at the Thursday work session the board approved the following:

•$1,125,000 to hire and train 24 new firefighters each year over the next three years – for a total of 72. They’ll serve unincorporated Guilford County. In recent decades there’s been a big fall off in the number of volunteer firefighters helping county fire departments and this expenditure will enhance fire protection in the county.

• $400,000 for staffing of the county’s EMT/Paramedic Academy and upgrades in technology and additional equipment for the training program.

• $1,548,901 to fund a “specialized protective services team” meant to fight domestic violence and child abuse in the county. The team will work with the Guilford County Family Justice Center at both the Greensboro and High Point location.

• $885,113 to work with community partners to improve food security across Guilford County.

•$350,000 to double the number of licensed, trained foster families available for children referred by Guilford County Social Services. According to county officials, the goal is to add 150 new licensed foster families and “significantly improve capacity for children in need of care.”

There will be more spending of the federal pool of money down the line: The board is planning a series of future work sessions to hear more proposals and hand out more funds.

Early in 2022, after a call for proposals, the county received 75 requests for the federal money that amounted to more than $280 million in asks. Guilford County Manager Mike Halford then developed a list of $68 million in projects that he recommended.