Gov. Beshear: Millions in Funding Coming To Improve Water Infrastructure in Eastern Kentucky Communities Impacted by Floods
Team Kentucky Update includes good economic news, grants for better internet and more
FRANKFORT, Ky. (June 22, 2023) – Today, Gov. Andy Beshear was joined by U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development’s state director for Kentucky, Thomas Carew, to announce millions in funding that will be available to help Eastern Kentucky communities repair water infrastructure damaged by last year’s floods.
The more than 20 counties that received a major disaster declaration in 2022 are eligible to apply. The funds can be used to repair damaged water infrastructure as well as to reduce long-term risks from future weather events. Applications opened today and will remain open for 60 days. For more information, visit rd.usda.gov.
“The flooding caused unprecedented destruction in these rural communities, including significant damage to water infrastructure,” said Gov. Beshear. “Today, we are once again keeping the promise we made to be there for our Eastern Kentucky families during the entire rebuilding process.”
“Thank you, Gov. Beshear for helping highlight this important supplemental funding,” said Dr. Carew. “No community can thrive without water. That’s why we pushed hard for this program. This is just another way that USDA Rural Development supports communities throughout their long-term recovery efforts. By working together, Eastern Kentucky can build back stronger than ever.”
“The flooding last year was devastating. For many people, you go to bed one night, you wake up the next day, and your life is gone. Everything that you’ve worked for your entire life – it’s gone. We not only lost property; we also lost lives,” said Floyd County Judge/Executive Robbie Williams. “But one thing about us folks in Eastern Kentucky is that we all stick together. We’re going to work through this together with the help of the Governor. These announcements really help us turn the page. The future of Eastern Kentucky is going to continue to get brighter and brighter.”
During the Team Kentucky update, the Governor also shared good news on economic development; recovery efforts in Eastern Kentucky; high-speed internet grants; road improvements in Western Kentucky; progress on orphan well capping and success in recruitment for critical positions in state government. He also named the staff at Camp Crooked Creek as this week’s Team Kentucky All-Stars.
Gov. Beshear highlighted the commonwealth’s growing electric vehicle industry. Since 2020, Kentucky has secured 20 EV-related announcements accounting for around $11.2 billion in planned investments and more than 10,800 new full-time jobs created.
In April, leaders at EV-maker Rivian announced they will invest $10 million to establish a remanufacturing facility in Bullitt County, creating 218 full-time, quality jobs. This project will see the company improve and update the existing operation to establish a remanufacturing facility to support the company’s EV trucks.
Today, Rivian leaders joined the Governor for the Team Kentucky Update and allowed the Governor to drive the company’s R1T pickup truck.
“On behalf of Rivian, we greatly appreciate all the support from the Commonwealth of Kentucky. This step into Kentucky is a key part of our plan. Our investment in Shepherdsville will bring remanufacturing and other support capabilities to the region and will help bring good paying jobs and training to local residents,” said Chris Nevers, senior director of public policy at Rivian. “We are excited to begin this partnership with the Commonwealth of Kentucky, and we look forward to growing our presence here in the years to come.”
Eastern Kentucky Flood Update
The Governor provided an update on recovery and rebuilding efforts in Eastern Kentucky. Currently, 87 families are housed in travel trailers, and 296 households have transitioned out of the Commonwealth Sheltering Program in Eastern Kentucky. As of this week, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has approved more than $107.5 million in Individual Assistance Grants. For more information on rebuilding efforts, visit governor.ky.gov/Flood-Resources.
Gov. Beshear and Executive Cabinet Secretary and State Budget Director John Hicks previewed the country’s largest-ever investment in high-speed internet, the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) Program. BEAD provides $42.45 billion to provide universal access to affordable and reliable high-speed internet across all households and businesses in all 50 states, Washington D.C. and U.S. territories. The federal government has said it will announce each state’s funding allocation by the end of June. Third-party estimates expect that Kentucky will receive between $700 million and $1.3 billion.
“Gov. Beshear’s administration is the first in the commonwealth to put in place a high-speed internet grant funding program. But there’s something even bigger coming: the BEAD Program,” Secretary Hicks said. “It’s very exciting news and this state’s goal, and the federal government’s goal, is universal high-speed internet service for all Kentuckians.”
In June 2022, Gov. Beshear announced $203 million in funding – the largest-ever public sector investment for expanding high-speed internet – to ensure access for more than 34,000 families and businesses. In November 2022, he announced a second round of grant funding, including more than $206 million.
Cadiz Road Improvement
The Governor provided an update on $140,000 in discretionary road funding through the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet to the City of Cadiz. The discretionary award went toward developing Jolly Way, which improved traffic flow for a nearby school bus garage and benefited local businesses. Watch the video here.
Orphan Well Capping
Gov. Beshear gave an update on oil capping efforts in the commonwealth. As part of his Better Kentucky Plan, Gov. Beshear previously announced a $25 million grant to plug orphan oil and gas wells across the commonwealth. Of the 22 states that received federal funding through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to plug wells, Kentucky is reporting the highest number of wells plugged.
The Governor reported that, so far, 540 wells have been capped in 23 counties across Kentucky, and 42 contracts have been signed to plug a total of 628 wells. The work has restored more than 32 acres of land for farming and other uses. So far, 90 jobs have been created through this work.
“We are leading the nation in this effort. We’re making it a priority to reclaim this land and protect our environment, while also creating some really good jobs for our people,” Gov. Beshear said. “We get things done in Kentucky. No matter the goal, we’re going to see it through, especially when it means we can create more opportunities for our people.”
“I’m excited about the work that’s been done in Christian County,” said Christian County Judge/Executive Jerry Gilliam. “They’re capping the wells three feet under the soil, so the tractors don’t have to go around them in the crop fields. This work is good for the environment and I’m happy the contracts went to local companies.”
“As a resident and a business owner in Sebree, I greatly appreciate having the abandoned wells plugged,” said Bradley Rideout, president of Echo Valley MX in Webster County. “Not only has an eye sore been removed; I now have more room for parking when I host big events and can now have a safe place to land Medivac helicopters when need be.”
Recruiting for Critical Positions
The Governor provided an update on the success the commonwealth is seeing in hiring Department for Community Based Services (DCBS) social workers, Kentucky State Police (KSP) sworn personnel and correctional officers at state prisons and juvenile detention centers due to recruitment efforts and pay increases.
Gov. Beshear said the Cabinet for Health and Family Services reported a 6% increase in DCBS social worker staff and a 22.5% increase in family support staff since December 2021. The commonwealth has introduced new and innovative responses to help with retention, including an additional $5 hourly shift premium, a Kentucky colleges recruitment program and paid internships for students.
Gov. Beshear has also fought for KSP employees by increasing pay for troopers and telecommunicators and securing a contribution enhancement for members of the State Police Retirement System Tier III plan. According to the Kentucky Justice and Public Safety Cabinet, these efforts have resulted in an increase in troopers from last year to this year.
The Governor has also fought to provide pay increases for correctional officers. Because of these efforts, there has been a reported 35% increase in correctional officers at the Department for Corrections and a nearly 46% increase in the Department of Juvenile Justice correctional officers.
“We are continuing to work hard to recruit for these critical positions and we thank everyone who has stepped up to serve our great commonwealth,” Gov. Beshear said. “We still have a lot of work to do, but we are moving in the right direction and a lot of progress is being made.”