EASTERN KENTUCKY (March 2, 2020) – Today, Gov. Andy Beshear, in collaboration with the Department for Local Government (DLG) and the Transportation Cabinet, announced more than $2 million for projects in Pikeville and Whitesburg.
Gov. Beshear made the announcements on a multi-stop trip through Eastern Kentucky where he discussed key issues affecting Kentucky families including education and health care.
Gov. Beshear also visited Prestonsburg Elementary School to read to students in support of National Read Across America Day.
“It was an honor to spend time with students at Prestonsburg Elementary School,” said Gov. Andy Beshear. “Our students are the future of the Commonwealth, which is why investing in education, health care and setting a good example in Frankfort are so important. I want to show them and everyone in Kentucky that we are working as one team – Team Kentucky.”
At a stop at the Floyd County Fiscal Court, Gov. Beshear talked about his budget proposal, which ends 14 years of painful cuts to state agencies, and discussed his administration’s priorities, including criminal justice reform and funding Southeast Correctional Facility.
His budget proposal is “education first” and includes a $400 million increase in education spending in the next biennium. That investment will provide teachers a one-time $2,000 raise, increases per pupil funding at schools across the Commonwealth and increases funding for higher education.
Beyond education, Gov. Beshear also mentioned his budget proposal would fully fund Medicaid and Medicaid expansion and specifically dedicates $2 million to the KCHIP enrollment program for kids to ensure as many Kentuckians as possible have health care.
To improve dangerous roads, Gov. Beshear highlighted $100 million in his budget dedicated to rural road improvements and said a top transportation priority includes speeding up construction on the Mountain Parkway, which will open up Eastern Kentucky and Floyd County to greater opportunity.
“We are so thankful Gov. Andy Beshear is moving Kentucky forward with his budget proposal,” said Judge-Executive Robbie Williams. “His budget includes a $2,000 raise for teachers, funding for the Southeast Correctional Facility, will speed up the completion of the Mountain Parkway and will return 100% of coal severance to coal counties, all of which will greatly benefit our community and will help us transition from a coal economy to a new economy.”
Gov. Beshear awarded the City of Pikeville with a $500,000 Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) grant for project Health Care Employment Around Resource Training (HEART). The city will use the funds to equip a 10,304-square-foot facility at Pikeville Medical Center to create a simulated learning environment designed to educate high school students about careers in the health care field. This project will prepare more than 488 students for careers in nursing and is intended to minimize the nursing shortage at Pikeville Medical Center.
“On behalf of Pikeville Medical Center, the Board of Directors, physicians and staff, I want to thank Gov. Andy Beshear and Congressman Hal Rogers for supporting this collaborative effort between the City of Pikeville and Pikeville Medical Center,” said Pikeville Medical Center CEO Donovan Blackburn. “With the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) grant, Project HEART will create a stronger regional workforce and attack the nursing shortage. This funding will provide a facility equipped for classroom instruction and clinical training with the goal of graduating more nurses, building a better community and boosting economic growth.”
Rep. Angie Hatton of Whitesburg discussed the benefits of the new training facility.
“I really appreciate the hard work that went into making this ARC grant possible and want to thank Gov. Beshear, the Department for Local Government officials and others for coming here to make this announcement,” said Rep. Angie Hatton. “This will be a big boost for the Pikeville Medical Center and those who will benefit from the new training center. I look forward to the day when this work is complete.”
Mayor James Carter said Project HEART will further enrich the crucial health care industry in Pikeville.
“The City of Pikeville is committed to enriching the lives of its citizens and fostering economic growth for the region,” said Mayor James Carter. “Project HEART supports this mission and is an important element in growing the health care sector of our economy. We are proud to partner with Pikeville Medical Center on this new venture and extend our gratitude to Gov. Andy Beshear and Congressman Hal Rogers for supporting eastern Kentucky and opening up new opportunities for our people.”
Gov. Beshear announced four grants to the City of Whitesburg and Letcher County Fiscal Court totaling more than $1.5 million.
The City of Whitesburg received a $101,239 Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) grant to transform the city pool into a splash park, which was proposed as safer and more cost effective for the city and families.
“We are honored to have Gov. Beshear in Whitesburg for these announcements,” said Mayor James Craft. “We are very pleased with these projects and the benefits they will bring to our community. It’s great to do things for our kids and we can’t wait for them to enjoy the new splash park.”
Currently, the City of Whitesburg experiences waterline breaks two to three times a month due to outdated waterlines. To ensure uninterrupted water access and relieve the financial burden regular breaks cause, Gov. Beshear awarded the city with a $1,305,000 ARC grant for the Whitesburg Waterline Replacement and Water Tank Rehab Project. The project includes replacing 14,500 linear feet of a main waterline and repairing the Sawmill Road water tank.
Gov. Beshear awarded the Letcher County Fiscal Court with a $193,318 LWCF grant for the Fishpond Park Revitalization Project. The city will use the funds to construct a bath house, add playground equipment, place new signage, add fire pits and a new grilling station and will update other park infrastructure.
“This money will go a long way toward upgrading our local parks, so I want to thank Gov. Beshear for coming here to announce this grant, and I really appreciate the work done by the Department for Local Government and the Letcher County Fiscal Court,” said Rep. Angie Hatton. “The splash pad will bring new life to Whitesburg’s pool, while the new playground and other updates will do the same for the Fishpond Lake area. I know many of us are looking forward to the day these projects are complete and our families can enjoy them.”
Judge-Executive Terry Adams explained the funding will help make Letcher County an even more beautiful part of the state.
“We are so very thankful that Letcher County has been chosen to be the recipient of this funding,” said Judge-Executive Terry Adams. “This influx will allow a much-needed upgrade and revitalization to Fishpond Park. Our county is one of the most beautiful places in the state and this funding will afford us the opportunity to shine our diamond in the rough. We greatly appreciate all the efforts of our citizens who have worked so hard to see this dream come to fruition and to our state government for providing the funding necessary to see the investment in our community happen. We would like to thank Gov. Andy Beshear and his staff for giving the opportunity to help move tourism to the forefront in Letcher County.”
In collaboration with the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, Gov. Beshear also announced $42,000 in County Road Aid emergency funds for critical flood damage repairs on Bridge Loop (CR 1613).
Heavy rain caused the Cowan Creek to rise and wash away major portions of the stream bank, damaging parts of the pavement. The county will use the funding to place 1500 tons of Class III Channel Lining – a type of crushed stone – along the streambank and bridge abutments to prevent further erosion. Letcher County is responsible for administering the work. The repairs will take place on Bridge Loop starting near mile point .10.
“I am pleased to provide funding assistance to Letcher County for these needed repairs that maintain safe connections for Kentuckians and maintain good infrastructure at the local level,” said Gov. Andy Beshear. “Our eastern Kentucky communities were hit hard from the recent flood and we want to do everything we can to repair the damages it caused.”
Since taking office, Gov. Beshear has presented over $14 million in grant funding to 16 communities across the Commonwealth. Local governments will use the funding to build a nature preserve at Lotus sexual assault and child abuse advocacy center in Paducah, rehabilitate the sewer system in Dawson Springs, construct a new fire station in Murray, make the Janice Mason Art Museum ADA accessible in Cadiz, update the Clyde A. Thomas Regional Airport in Morehead, add a terminal at the Barkley Regional Airport in Paducah, update waterlines in Hazard and Jackson, update the Perry Building in Perry County and improve parks in Dayton, Bromley, Covington, Wilder, Morehead, Sandy Hook and Louisa.