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‘Health and safety,’ broadband expansion on county agenda

As winter approaches and the global pandemic shows no sign of diminishing, the county is considering ways to make its buildings safer for employees and visitors to those buildings.

“Health and Safety Project” funding, including installation of UV lights/ionizers in 19 county buildings, is one of the items for decision on the agenda for the Beaufort County Board of Commissioners meeting on Monday.

“Due to COVID-19, there is an increased awareness of building air quality and filtration systems available for HVAC systems. Many school systems, commercial businesses and government agencies have chosen to invest in technologies that help to filter and clean air that circulates in the buildings,” the agenda reads.

Beaufort County Community College uses the same equipment and recommends its use for the county’s 19 buildings. The cost for installing 210 units over those 19 buildings — including the county’s Emergency Operations Center, health department, sheriff’s office and Board of Elections buildings — is $170,790. Under consideration are ultraviolet air disinfection equipment, which uses UV irradiation to kill mold or other bio-growth in outdoor HVAC air handlers, and an air purifying device installed in HVAC systems that releases ions into the air stream, breaking down pollutants and decomposing pathogens, according to information provided by the vendor.

Beaufort County Public Works Director Christina Smith will also request $185,000 for stand-by generators for the county Administrative Building, its maintenance shop and the Financial Services Building, an effort to “improve resiliency of county operations during times of electrical disruptions,” such as power outages during tropical storms or hurricanes.

Increasing broadband service in the county is another item up for decision Monday, as county commissioners could move forward with issuing a request for proposals from private providers of internet access service. County Manager Brian Alligood is suggesting the county use federal CARES Act funding of $500,000 to fund matching broadband grants to expand internet service and “help increase economic development, educational opportunities and the delivery of health care in the county.”

Beaufort County Board of Commissioners meets 5:30 p.m. Monday in the county Financial Services Building, 136 W. Second St., Washington. The meeting is open to the public.