FRANKFORT, Ky. – Governor Ernie Fletcher joined several state and local officials today in Somerset to announce the award of more than $73.6 million in funds for numerous projects in Pulaski County.
“These projects are clearly indicative of my administration’s ongoing commitment to building strong communities throughout Kentucky,” said Governor Fletcher. “Somerset is the economic engine of the Southern Kentucky region. A strong infrastructure is absolutely essential in order to sustain a rock solid economy and a high quality of life for everyone in Somerset and Pulaski County.”
Governor Fletcher presented ceremonial checks, totaling almost $68 million, for road projects in Pulaski County. Those funds will be used in the following manner:
* $25,223,339 for construction of a new interchange at the intersection of US27, KY1247 and KY90.
* $21,787,042 for the widening of a 4.3 mile section of US27 from Norwood Road to Bull Road.
* $19,337,339 for construction of Section 1 of the Southwest Bypass from US27 (opposite the existing East Bypass), west to Oak Hill Road.
* $951,721 for hazard elimination improvements on KY1642.
* $629,695 to rehabilitate the intersection of US27 and KY80.
“Governor Fletcher must be commended for his leadership and his desire to work with state and local leaders to make projects like these happen,” said Transportation Cabinet Secretary Bill Nighbert. “This administration will not pursue any project that does not support the efforts of areas like Pulaski County and Somerset to achieve and sustain their full economic potential.”
The Transportation Cabinet recently completed two major projects in Pulaski County, which required a commitment of almost $62 million. Two additional Pulaski County construction projects, totaling more than $35 million, are scheduled for completion in 2007.
“We want to thank Governor Fletcher for his continued support of so many projects that enhance the well being of all the citizens of Pulaski County,” said Sen. Vernie McGaha (R-Russell Springs). “Somerset is a thriving commercial hub for the region, which means that every investment announced here today is going to benefit all the surrounding counties as well.”
Governor Fletcher surprised Pulaski County officials today with a $1 million Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) for Somerset-Pulaski County Development Foundation, Inc. Funds will be used to assist with the construction of a 38,000 square foot utilities training center, which will be known as the Kentucky Regional High Growth Training Center.
The facility will be located on eight acres of land in the Valley Oak Technology Park and will offer potential utility employees with the specialized training necessary for employment at rural electric cooperatives in the area. The need for the program was established through a recent survey conducted by the American Public Power Association, which confirmed that over the next five years more than 20 percent of skilled employees in the utility industry will be eligible to retire.
Kentucky’s U. S. Congressional leaders’ continued support of the CDBG program has made the funding available nationally, as well as within the Commonwealth. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development makes these funds available through the Governor’s Office for Local Development (GOLD), which administers the CDBG Small Cities program in Kentucky.
Governor Fletcher also presented $4,380,000 in HB 380 Community Development Line-Item funding for various community and infrastructure projects. HB 380 Community Development Line-Item projects are also administered by GOLD.
“All of us who represent Pulaski County in Frankfort are very appreciative that Governor Fletcher recognizes the importance of these investments to the citizens of Somerset and all surrounding communities,” said Rep. Danny Ford (R-Mt. Vernon). “Today’s announcements also speak volumes about the benefits that a community can reap when leaders at all levels work together tirelessly for the common good of the people.”
Governor Fletcher addressed the health of Pulaski County’s agricultural economy today, when he presented $299,462 in agricultural diversification funding to the Pulaski County Agricultural Development Council.
“Governor Fletcher’s administration continues to make great strides toward lessening Kentucky’s dependence on tobacco production, while revitalizing the farm economy,” said Keith Rogers, executive director of the Governor’s Office of Agricultural Policy. “We have invested 50 percent of Kentucky's Master Settlement Agreement into the Kentucky Agricultural Development Fund.” Rogers added that, to date, Kentucky has invested more than $230 million in an array of county, regional and state projects, which are designed to increase net farm income and create sustainable new farm-based business enterprises.
“Overall, the funding announced today is going to provide a tremendous economic shot in the arm for Pulaski County,” observed Rep. Tommy Turner (R-Somerset). “As a farmer, I am particularly grateful for Governor Fletcher’s attention to the needs of those who make it possible for us to use a slogan like ‘Kentucky Proud.’”
More than 2,730 projects have been funded through the Agricultural Development Fund since the inception of the program in January 2001.