Gov. Andy Beshear and Rep. Harold “Hal” Rogers (KY-05) hosted the first-ever virtual ribbon-cutting ceremony in the Capitol Rotunda Thursday to celebrate the completion of Abandoned Mine Lands (AML) Pilot Program economic development and tourism-related projects in Perry, Floyd and Clay counties.
They also applauded the beginning of new construction at the EastPark Industrial Site spanning Boyd, Carter, Elliott, Greenup and Lawrence counties. The projects are a result of multiple investments, including more than $14 million in Abandoned Mine Lands Pilot Program grants.
Gov. Beshear praised the projects as a positive step for the region, which has seen coal severance funds diminish.
“I am committed to bringing economic opportunity to all regions of Kentucky, to create good jobs and make life better for every Kentucky family,” Gov. Beshear said. “We’ve already made great strides in bringing greater investment to the region. In the coming months and years, more and more of these projects will continue, bringing jobs and economic diversity to Eastern Kentucky.”
Congressman Rogers, who along with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, has championed $540 million in federal funding for the AML Pilot Program since 2016, of which $130 million has been awarded to Kentucky, said: “The ribbon-cutting celebration is a revival in the coalfields of Eastern Kentucky where abandoned mine lands are coming back to life in the form of new industries and new opportunities. We’re proving that Kentucky’s Appalachian region is not only one of the most beautiful parts of the country, full of tourism adventures, but we can also competitively manufacture top-of-the-line products with high-tech equipment.”
Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet Secretary Rebecca Goodman at the ribbon-cutting said, “It is exciting to see these projects, selected for funding in prior years, being completed. These projects are bringing jobs, tourism dollars and economic vitality to these communities.”
The Dajcor Aluminum Extruding Mill, located at the Coal Fields Regional Industrial Park in Perry County, a former mine site, received $6.5 million in AML Pilot funding to purchase a new aluminum extrusion press from Italy. The press is now operational and is owned by the county and leased to Dajcor for 15 years. Dajcor Aluminum Ltd., a Canadian manufacturer of extruded and fabricated aluminum products, has hired 32 employees and plans to create up to 265 full-time jobs in its first U.S. operation near Hazard.
The 236-acre industrial park, a partnership of the Kentucky River District counties of Perry, Leslie, Knott, Breathitt and Harlan, provides sites for manufacturing. A separate gas line project, partially funded with a separate $900,000 AML Pilot grant, is providing natural gas to Dajcor and other industrial park tenants.
“We are extremely happy with our new location in Eastern Kentucky and the workforce skills of our employees,” said President/CEO of Dajcor Aluminum, Mike Kilby. “We wouldn’t be here without the efforts of Congressman Rogers, Senator McConnell, Governor Beshear and One East Kentucky. Their collaboration and assistance via the AML Pilot Program made choosing this location an easy decision for our company. I am very proud of our team and the work they did to bring this project to completion despite the current pandemic.”
The Prestonsburg to David Rails to Trails project, funded with $1.95 million in AML Pilot funding, extends the existing Garfield Trail, connecting Prestonsburg with the Middle Creek National Civil War Battlefield and on to the historic community of David, a former coal town.
Prestonsburg Mayor Les Stapleton said, “This trail is very important to us. It is appropriately named the Prestonsburg Passage Rail Trail as it is another step for Prestonsburg’s passage from what it was to what it will be.”
Impact Outdoor Adventures, an RV/camping facility located at an abandoned mine lands site in Clay County, opened last month thanks to a $700,000 AML Pilot grant. Visitors now enjoy archery, mountain biking, kayaking, hiking and camping at the site. Eastern Kentucky PRIDE Inc. oversaw the project, which included construction of access roads, drainage controls and a new RV campground with electric, water and sewer connections.
Board President of Impact Outdoor Adventures, Roy Rice said: “Impact Outdoor Adventures started as an outreach for our young people in Clay County, to provide fun activities for them to do right here in our backyard. Thanks to this AML grant, people are now coming to Clay County to stay in our new RV park, camp under the stars, eat in our restaurants and experience these hills like never before. We are excited about our future in the City of Hope.”
EastPark, a multiuse industrial park at the junction of Boyd, Greenup and Carter counties near Ashland and Grayson, is beginning new site work through a $4 million AML Pilot grant. The project will involve site stabilization through the placement and monitoring of approximately 600,000 cubic yards of on-site earthen material in three phases over 22 weeks. This will allow the installation of a grid of aggregate and concrete support piers and columns, via a separately funded project, on an 84-acre site that will support the weight of future economic development.
The 800-acre EastPark is the creation of Boyd, Carter, Elliott, Greenup and Lawrence County governments and the Commonwealth of Kentucky and hosts businesses that employ 1,076 people.
Greenup County Judge Executive Robert “Bobby” Carpenter, speaking on behalf of the county judge executives of Lawrence, Carter, Elliott and Boyd counties who make up the executive board of EastPark, said, “We are very appreciative of Gov. Beshear and Congressman Rogers for supporting this AML grant to help prepare EastPark for future industrial development.”
The Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet’s (EEC) Division of Abandoned Mine Lands, as part of the AML, is helping to revitalize the coalfields in Kentucky’s Appalachian region through economic development. The U.S. Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement approves each project.
Since 2016, 43 projects in 21 counties have been selected for the pilot program.
Projects selected in 2020 will be eligible for a share of up to $25 million in 2020 AML funds.
Information about the AML Pilot Program can be found at AMLPILOT or by contacting Bob Scott, Director, Kentucky Division of Abandoned Mine Lands, 300 Sower Boulevard, Frankfort, KY 40601. Office: 502-782-6761 or e-mail: BobF.Scott@ky.gov.
(provided by the Office of Gov. Andy Beshear)