WMKY

$4 Million in Abandoned Mine Lands Pilot Grants Announced for Eastern Kentucky

Aug 8, 2017

Credit Daily Yonder

U.S. Rep. Harold "Hal" Rogers (KY-05) and the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet (EEC) today announced five grants worth more than $5 million to spur economic development and job creation in Eastern Kentucky. 

Two of the grants were awarded by the EEC’s Division of Abandoned Mine Lands, as part of the 2016 Abandoned Mine Lands (AML) Pilot program to revitalize the coalfields in Kentucky’s Appalachian region.

Breathitt County Fiscal Court has been given preliminary approval for a $1.95 million grant towards the development of its South Fork elk view water line, and campground.

The Hazard Community and Technical College (HCTC) has also received preliminary approval for a $1.15 million grant to create a utility training program at its Leslie County campus in Hyden, Ky.

Both projects were unveiled at the Kentucky River Area Development District (ADD) office in Hazard, Ky. by Congressman Rogers, who championed $195 million in federal funding for the AML Pilot program over the last two years. The announcements are part of a joint effort with Shaping Our Appalachian Region (SOAR), a grassroots effort to revitalize the future of Eastern Kentucky.

Joining Congressman Rogers today were state Representatives Chris Fugate, Tim Couch and Toby Herald, as well as Energy and Environment Cabinet Secretary Charles Snavely and Jared Arnett, Executive Director of SOAR.

Also announced were $2 million in U. S. Army Corps of Engineers grants for three infrastructure projects in Eastern Kentucky. These included $1 million for a water line extension for a federal prison at Roxanna in Letcher County, $500,000 to build three miles of sewer mains and pumping stations in Leslie County, and $500,000 to replace sewer pipes and manholes in Knott County.

“We are actively investing in the revival of coal country by opening new doors of opportunity for job creation, tourism and innovation across the region,” said Congressman Rogers, who is also advocating for continued federal funding for the AML Pilot Program in 2018. “Together, we are paving a brighter future for Eastern Kentucky, through improved infrastructure and a stronger workforce.”

“One of these projects will leverage the natural landscape of this beautiful region and the other will retrain and employ coal miners who have been dislocated from the workforce,” said Governor Matt Bevin. “Both will bring needed jobs and economic stimulus to the area.”

The Breathitt County project will include trail rides for horses and off-highway vehicles, as well as both primitive and RV camping.

The HCTC utility training program in Hyden will provide substation maintenance, drone operation and crane operator training to displaced miners, among others and in so doing add significant dollars to the local economy through good-paying jobs. This will provide workforce training to residents living in Leslie, Clay, Harlan, Bell, Laurel, and Jackson counties.

The South Fork elk view water line and campground and the utility training are part of Kentucky’s $30 million portion of the federal AML Pilot program, first funded in 2016 through the U.S. Office of Surface Mining and Reclamation Enforcement (OSMRE), to help revive communities in coal-producing states hardest hit by the downturn of the coal industry in recent years.

Secretary Snavely called the project funding a continued example of how the AML Pilot program is making a difference in Eastern Kentucky.

“It is rewarding to see so many worthy projects get funding so that they can be an important part of the economic rebuilding of Eastern Kentucky,” Sec. Snavely said.

The AML Pilot project is a joint effort by the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development, the Department for Local Government, the SOAR initiative in Eastern Kentucky, the Kentucky Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet and the Energy and Environment Cabinet, Division of Abandoned Mine Lands.

Kentucky’s 2017 AML Pilot Program granting period opened on August 4, 2017. Application forms for project submittals can be found by calling Mr. Bob Scott, Director, KY Division of Abandoned Mine Lands, 300 Sower Blvd., Frankfort, KY 40601. 502-782-6761.

(story provided by Office of U.S. Rep. Harold "Hal" Rogers)