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'This keeps the doors open': COVID-19 relief funding coming for Charlestown businesses

The funding is a part of the Office of Community and Rural Affairs Community Development Block Grant program.

CHARLESTOWN, Ind. — Melissa Duvall is the owner of Absolutely You Salon in Charlestown, Indiana. For the past year and a half, she has watched as shutdowns and the unknown have impacted her business.

Back in March 2020, she shut her doors for seven and a half weeks, not knowing when or how they would open their doors in a world where COVID-19 ruled. 

"We could have survived but it would have been hard," said Duvall. 

Little did Duvall know, but personal protective equipment, restrictions, and new regulations were just part of the new expenses that she would face when she opened her doors again. 

 "I've already replaced all of our styling chairs because cleaning them after each person with strong disinfectant, they were cracking," she said. 

That is why Duvall applied for COVID-19 relief through the City of Charlestown. The funding is a part of the Office of Community and Rural Affairs Community Development Block Grant program. Charlestown was awarded $250,000.

The money will be split between awarding businesses and putting money towards a social worker. $150,000 will be divided evenly among the 16 recipients.

"This keeps the doors open, it pays their bills, it pays their salaries. It enables them to survive as a business and not have to close," said Charlestown Mayor Dr. Treva Hodges. 

Hodges served on the committee that awarded the funding. She says it's crucial for businesses who are still trying to bounce back because the price of supplies and materials is still very high. 

"They are the thing that is going to keep these businesses open," she said.  "Charlestown's economy is not like larger cities around here. Our economy is based largely in these local small businesses," said Hodges. 

For Duvall, the funding is a relief. 

"This just made it a little bit easier for us. There's not so much stress," she said. 

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