FRANKFORT, Ky. – Governor Ernie Fletcher was in Pike County Friday afternoon to announce funding for a number of community projects. The announcements included funds to improve transportation infrastructure and safety, a new all-purpose bike and walk trail, funding to provide safe and reliable drinking water to more than 150 households and additional support for substance abuse treatment and jail programming. More than $7.5 million in funding was announced at a ceremony before a large crowd at the Pikeville Fire Department’s Thompson Road Station.
“These projects are indicative of my goal to build strong communities with healthy people all across our great commonwealth,” said Governor Fletcher. “The highway project we are announcing today gives the green light to new economic development opportunities along Thompson Road while at the same time alleviating traffic problems. Funding for the highway work and for the water line extension project that is critical for a healthy environment, are examples of how my administration is working with local governments to put the people of Kentucky first.”
The Governor presented local officials with these transportation funding checks:
$4,450,000 in state construction funds for the widening of Thompson Road
$322,595 in federal funds for the City of Pikeville to use on the Thompson Road widening project
$100,000 in Transportation Enhancement funds to the City of Pikeville for use on the Bob Amos Park multi-use trail
$500,000 in KYTC bond funds to the Pike County for the resurfacing of various county roads
$15,000 in KYTC bond funds to Elkhorn City for resurfacing various city streets
“This is an example of state government ‘walking the walk,’” said Pikeville Mayor Frank Justice. “Economic development doesn’t happen just because people talk about it. This is the kind of infrastructure improvement that goes into the mix that improves our business and employment opportunities. We took our idea to Secretary Nighbert and Governor Fletcher. They listened. They agreed. They did their part. It’s a great day when everything comes together for a project like this, and we are grateful for the Governor’s wholehearted support, Rep. Howard Cornett’s confidence in the project and Bill Nighbert’s enthusiastic endorsement of our efforts.”
Governor Fletcher also presented the fiscal court with ceremonial checks totaling more than $1.3 million from fees on coal mining. That includes $1.2 million from Kentucky’s Abandoned Mine Land (AML) program for extension of water lines in the Ferrell’s Creek area.
“I am always pleased to see the expansion of water and sewer lines,” said Rep Howard Cornett (R-Whitesburg). “Our citizens all deserve fresh drinking water, and this is another important step toward making sure that one hundred percent of the people in Eastern Kentucky have safe, affordable water in their homes and businesses.”
AML funding will pay for design and construction of water lines to about 165 households. The Ferrell’s Creek area is eligible for AML assistance because much of its ground water was adversely affected by coal mining that occurred prior to 1982, when Kentucky received primacy to enforce the Surface Mine Control and Reclamation Act.
The Governor also presented a check for $155,445.92 – Pike County’s share of mine permit and acreage fees collected by the Department for Natural Resources. By law, a third of the money is returned to fiscal courts of the counties in which the coal was produced.
“The mayor and city commissioners are committed to improving the business climate, and therefore the economic stability, of Pikeville, said City Manager Donovan Blackburn. “This is a wonderful example of government at work where it counts.”
Governor Fletcher also presented a ceremonial check from the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet’s Office of Drug Control Policy (ODCP) in the amount of $750,000 to UNITE/WestCare Kentucky. Currently, the licensed facility has 45 beds for adult males who are dependent on alcohol, narcotics, methamphetamine and other drugs.
“Successfully salvaging lives from the indiscriminate destruction of substance abuse addiction means much more than merely arresting dealers and educating youth. It takes quality treatment facilities and intensive after-care support programs,” said Karen Engle, executive director of Operation UNITE. “In the past, Southern and Eastern Kentucky families faced immense obstacles to obtain treatment – both financial and a lack of treatment capacity – there simply weren’t enough beds to meet demand. Through the foresight of the Office of Drug Control Policy and WestCare Kentucky the future has become much brighter.”
“We are grateful the administration recognizes the need for substance abuse treatment for those individuals and families fighting the disease of addiction,” said Jennifer Noland, regional vice-president of WestCare Kentucky. “Drugs have paralyzed Eastern Kentucky long enough and with support of the community and government officials WestCare is committed to making an impact on this serious problem.”
WestCare Kentucky opened its long-term residential treatment facility on August 8, 2005, and it accepted its first client 14 days later.
Local officials also received funding to expand jail treatment programming in Pike County. The funding will provide substance abuse treatment for those incarcerated in the county’s correctional facilities.
“Getting dealers off the street is a critical component of our efforts, but true success will only come by putting broken lives and families back together,” stated General Norman E. Arflack, Justice and Public Safety Cabinet Secretary. “We have a significant shortage of drug treatment facilities across the state. The money for Pike County Jail Treatment and the drug treatment center is absolutely essential to getting people the help they need.”
Pike County received $30,249 for the program, which currently serves 20 inmates in the program. ODCP has now helped fund 14 jail treatment programs across the state.