7 projects in eastern Ky. receive $3.6M in ARC grants

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (KT) -  Gov. Andy Beshear on Monday announced $3,690,902 million in Appalachian Regional Commission grants, for seven projects in eastern Kentucky communities.


Communities receiving funds are Booneville, Hazard, Morehead, Mount Vernon and Somerset.


--Booneville will use $1,000,000 to replace 1,160 water meters throughout the city. These upgrades will allow officials to provide more accurate, remote readings that will prevent revenue and water loss.


--In Hazard, the Challenger Learning Center of Kentucky will receive $800,000 for the Moon, Mars and Beyond Gateway to Tomorrow project, to promote STEM careers and NASA’s “Return to the Moon by 2024” missions.  It includes an interactive science center, an outreach program in schools for students who cannot travel to the center, virtual programs and the establishment of a Moon, Mars and Beyond Facilitation Team. Upon completion, the project will create two jobs and will include 1,875 students.


--Also in Hazard, Teach for America Appalachia is receiving $500,000 from ARC to recruit, train and retain K-12 teachers for underserved areas in eastern Kentucky by offering new training opportunities and incentives. The project will recruit 290 teachers and plans to retain at least 250 past their initial two-year contract. This project would serve 15 school districts within 12 Appalachian counties.


--Morehead State University gets $622,902 in ARC funding to improve research capabilities and academic instruction in space systems engineering and astrophysics. They will install a 12-meter satellite-tracking antenna for research, student training and to support NASA missions. It also will make them one of only four Deep Space Network stations worldwide. Morehead will also replace the Star Theater which is the most important asset for science education, outreach and training at the MSU Space Science Center. Upon completion, this project will ensure MSU can attract and train students at all grade levels for STEM careers and will cement its legacy of graduating qualified, workforce-ready engineers and physicists.


--Rockcastle Regional Hospital and Respiratory Care Center Inc. in Mt. Vernon has $360,000 for the Tech Ready Apprentices for Careers in Kentucky Apprenticeship Program, which was developed by the Kentucky Department of Education’s Office of Career and Technical Education and the Kentucky Labor Cabinet. The program will train 36 apprentices, 12 per year over a three-year period. Participants include high school students who are interested in becoming state registered nurse aides.


--The Southeast Kentucky Economic Development Corporation in Somerset has a $108,000 grant for the Eastern Kentucky Economic Development Branding Initiative, to fund development of new branding, stock photo production and websites for Rockcastle, Rowan, Whitley and Boyd counties. When complete, this program will help create 50 jobs and leverage $10 million in new private investment.


--The Center for Rural Development in Somerset will use $300,000 in ARC funding for the Coal Impacted Skills Training Program, providing training opportunities to displaced, unemployed and underemployed workers in 35 counties impacted by the decline of the coal industry and COVID-19. Training will include essential work skills, help desk customer service and specialized workforce training in high-growth industries like allied health, commercial trucking and additive manufacturing. The program is expected to train 260 workers and provide a more ready workforce in growing industries.


The governor also announced nearly $4 million in funding from the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) to a dozen communities for improvement of local streets and roads.


“One way we make a better Kentucky is by empowering our local governments to improve and maintain the local traffic routes their citizens use every day,” Gov. Beshear said. “Smoother pavement, repaired roadbeds, improved drainage; simple things by themselves but highly important to the people who use them every day.”


The $3,963,809 will reimburse 10 counties and three cities for work such as pavement repair, resurfacing and drainage ditching on roadways that were rated in poor condition. The projects were submitted for funding consideration from local officials. In each case, KYTC district engineers assessed road conditions to determine the most critical needs based on factors such as safety, economic impact and traffic volumes.


“These projects will improve the lives of people in eastern Kentucky. They also further illustrate my administration’s commitment to the region and our promise to protect the commonwealth’s economy despite the challenges posed by COVID-19,” Beshear said. “We are grateful for the leaders who made these projects possible and for ARC’s continued commitment to Kentucky.”

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