August 2, 2008

Beshear Visits W. Kentucky Bearing Gifts Distributes Nearly $4 Million to Finance Storm Cleanup, Housing and Sewer Upgrades

By JOHN LUCAS Courier & Press staff writer 464-7433 or [email protected]

A half dozen Western Kentucky communities were nearly $4 million richer by the time Gov. Steve Beshear completed a whirlwind tour of the region Thursday afternoon.

Beshear delivered grants... mostly federal funds that pass through the state treasury... to finance a variety of local projects in Muhlenberg County, Dawson Springs, Princeton and Sturgis.

The governor also conducted one of the 13 town hall-style meetings he plans to hold across the state at Madisonville on Thursday evening.

The grant funds distributed will be used for projects ranging from upgrading low- and moderate-income housing stock in Powderly and Princeton to rehabilitating an aging sewer system at Sturgis, building sidewalks in Dawson Springs and reimbursing local governments in Muhlenberg County for expenses associated with the cleanup of debris from a February tornado.

The $100,000 grants received by Muhlenberg County and Central City and Greenville, coupled with additional money from the Federal Emergency Management Agency will go a long way toward recouping the more than $500,000 spent on cleanup from the Feb. 5 tornado, said Muhlenberg Judge-Executive Rick Newman.

"We'll be just a little bit short, but it's a big boost for us," said Newman, who noted the local governments funded the cleanup efforts from their general funds.

Both Powderly and Princeton received $1 million Department of Housing and Urban Development Community Development Block Grants for scattered site housing projects.

In both communities, the money will be used to upgrade or demolish and rebuild dilapidated owner-occupied housing.

At Sturgis, City Clerk Cindy Carr said the $1 million grant received there will help fund a long-term project to replace aging sewer lines. Carr said total cost of the multiphased project is expected to exceed $4.5 million. The city also has received a $2 million grant from the state legislature to assist with the sewer replacement.

The city hopes to bid and start construction on the project this year, Carr said.

At Dawson Springs, Beshear's hometown, a $249,480 Safe Routes to School grant will be used to build sidewalks and a bike path along U.S. 62 to the school. Digital signage also will be installed, said Dawson Springs City Clerk Denise Ridley.

Charles Profitt, director of pupil personnel for the school district, noted that most of its 750 students live within walking distance of the schools.

The project also will encourage what he described as "walking busses," where parents accompany groups of children to school. Its goal, he said, is to get parents more involved with students.

Beshear continues his tour of the region today with stops at Bardwell, Wickliffe and Paducah before returning to Princeton for the annual Garden Party at the home of 4th District State Rep. Mike Cherry.

On Saturday, Beshear will join other Kentucky politicians at the annual Fancy Farm Picnic, the traditional opening of the state's fall campaign season, in Graves County.

(c) 2008 Evansville Courier & Press. Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning. All rights Reserved.