Johnson County, Paintsville, eKAMI to receive more than $7 million in grants

Gov. Matt Bevin, left, announces $4 million in grants coming to Johnson County for expansion of the Paintsville Waste Water Treatment Plant, which officials have said could help spur community growth. Joining Bevin for the announcement were local and state officials representing Paintsville and Johnson County.

Johnson County, the East Kentucky Advanced Manufacturing Institute and the City of Paintsville received good news during the Shaping Our Appalachian Region Summit this year.

According to a statement from the office of Gov. Matt Bevin, the city and county will receive $4 million in grants for a planned sewer expansion to alleviate capacity issues at the Paintsville Waste Water Treatment Plant which have plagued the city in recent years. Also announced was a $3.4 grant for eKAMI to expand its operations into West Liberty with a new facility at the East Kentucky Correctional Complex.

The expansion will free up capacity at the Paintsville Waste Water Treatment Plant by diverting waste to the Honey Branch Wastewater Treatment Plant. The statement said the expansion would alleviate the capacity issues at the Paintsville plant and foster economic growth in the city, as well as along the sewer route, which recently saw a ban on new sewer taps lifted.

New construction in the city was halted by the sewer tap ban and is still limited by the capacity issues faced by the water plant, but this grant seeks to alleviate that issue and allow for growth and expansion in Paintsville.

eKAMI’s grant funds will be used to construct a “20,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art training facility,” at the Eastern Kentucky Correctional Complex in Morgan County, which will be used to retrain prisoners and help them develop skills for a successful reintegration into society, according to eKAMI Director Kathy Walker.

“The AML grant we received will expand eKAMI’s outreach into Morgan County to develop a ‘behind-the-fence’ pilot program at the EKCC, the largest correctional facility in the Commonwealth,” Walker said.

The grants were received as part of the Abandoned Mine Lands Pilot program, which covers projects that impact 14 Eastern Kentucky counties and is aimed at revitalizing the coalfields of regions affected by the decline of the coal industry, according to the statement.

All projects were unveiled at the 2019 SOAR Summit in Pikeville by Bevin and Congressman Hal Rogers, who, according to the statement, has championed $425 million in federal funding for the AML Pilot program since 2016, alongside U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell. A total of $105 million of those program funds have been awarded to Kentucky, the statement said.

“These grant announcements target the regional scope of SOAR and the importance of collaborating across county boundaries by highlighting the success we can create when we combine federal, state and local resources,” Rogers said. “We are addressing a broad spectrum of issues through these grants, from advancing healthcare, to enhancing tourism, to improving infrastructure, to creating new jobs. If we are going to shape our future, we must continue to take a holistic approach.”

“I am excited to join Congressman Rogers today in announcing more than $34 million in AML Pilot Program investments for 20 economic development projects across Eastern Kentucky,” Bevin said. “These funds will assist the region’s communities in providing vital healthcare access, workforce training, infrastructure development, tourism enhancement, and economic opportunity. We are grateful to Congressman Rogers for being a tireless champion and strong partner as we transform Eastern Kentucky’s economy to build a brighter future for our citizens.”

McConnell said that, as U.S. Senate majority leader and a senior member of the Appropriations Committee, he has made funding this program a top priority each year to deliver much-needed federal resources to revitalize this region’s economy and to improve the lives of families in Eastern Kentucky’s coal communities.

“Eastern Kentucky communities hold great potential, and the investments announced today will support families, workers and community institutions throughout this wonderful region,” Senator McConnell said.

The AML Pilot Program, funded through the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation Enforcement, is a program administered by the Energy and Environment Cabinet’s Division of Abandoned Mine Lands with assistance from the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development, the Department for Local Government, and the SOAR Initiative in Eastern Kentucky.

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