State officials award funding to several eastern Kentucky communities
State officials made the rounds Monday to award two Eastern Kentucky counties with more than $6 million in funding for various programs.
Rocky Adkins, Senior Advisor to Governor Andy Beshear, awarded more than $5.3 million to Lawrence County to support water infrastructure in the county and improve tourism. Adkins also presented Paintsville Independent Schools with a $1.5 million grant from the Department of Local Government to bolster their Economic Development Center.
Vince Doty is the Assistant Judge Executive in Lawrence County. He said the county received $4.3 million for water line replacement between Louisa and Catlettsburg and a new water tank in the Donithan Branch area.
“It was needed a great deal. Lot of leaks in that area, a lot of, you know, water loss,” he said. “Plus, the new tank will help distribute to more residents in that area.”
Doty said an additional $233,000 will go toward the ongoing project that will provide a much-needed extension of water lines throughout the county to deliver public water services, specifically to Delong Branch. Some, he said, will be receiving those services for the first time.
“We still have some residents in our county that currently just have well water,” Doty said. “And, we’ve had a lot of wells here in the last three or four years, you know, a lot of wells have gone dry or bad, leaving some residents with no water at all.”
Doty said the Delong Branch project is estimated to be completed in the next month. In addition to funding for water improvements, Lawrence County Tourism also received a grant totaling $43,000 for advertisement and promotion, and the county received a reimbursement of around $237,000 for road resurfacing in various parts of the county.
In Johnson County, David Gibson is the Superintendent of Paintsville Independent Schools. He said the $1.5 million his district received will go toward their Economic Development Center, which incorporates their STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) Academy, as well as providing job training for adults and other members of the community.
Gibson said the STEAM Academy hopes to prepare 7-12 grade students for the future.
“It will help our students develop career pathways into the 21st century industries that are going to be out there,” he said. “We’re focusing on medical. There’s a great need for medical workers in Eastern Kentucky. We’re also going to be working towards developing pathways for engineering, entrepreneurship.”
The STEAM Academy will also be focusing on some subjects that are a bit more unique, Gibson said.
“Artificial intelligence, how we can incorporate that into the businesses of the future and into our school system,” he said. “We’re also going to be looking at developing a space for citizens in our community and across the region where they can come in to develop businesses.”
Gibson said with the grant from state officials, the district has raised around $4 million of their $8 million total for this project.