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Governor recommends ARC approve $4.7 million in funding

CHARLESTON, W.Va.-- Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin recommended Tuesday that the Appalachian Regional Commission award the state $4.7 million for eight projects, including waterline extension and educational programs.

"This is significant because, as we know, federal resources are becoming scarce," Tomblin said during a news conference at the Capitol.

Congress set up the Appalachian Regional Commission in 1965 to help develop the Appalachian region, which includes all of West Virginia and parts of 12 other states.

The organization offers funding for projects intended to create jobs for people in Appalachia or build infrastructure to make the region more competitive and less isolated, according to the ARC's website. 

The top recommended award of $1.5 million Tuesday went to the Eastern Wyoming Public Service District for the first phase of its Barkers Ridge/Basin Water Extension project, which would bring water service to 130 customers.

Similarly, the governor recommended the Lincoln County Public Service District receive $1 million for waterline extension. The money, coupled with other grants, will help the county complete a $6.9 million project to bring water to between 500 and 600 households, said Bruce Tulley, a public service district board member.

Sen. Ron Stollings, D-Boone, said he was "gushing" with excitement Tuesday.

The homes -- located in Alkol, Bulger, Spurlockville and Mud River Valley -- are well kept and not far from town but, "in 2012, they still don't have city water," Stollings said.

Tulley said the county has been working toward getting water to these homes for 30 years, and he estimated the project would take one year to complete.

On Tuesday, the governor also recommended West Virginia University at Parkersburg receive $150,000 to help outfit its culinary arts commercial kitchen.

The grant will buy appliances such as stoves and refrigerators, said Rhonda Tracy, senior vice president for academic affairs at the campus.

The culinary arts program hasn't begun taking applications yet, but the school plans to accept 20 students, she said.

In addition, the governor recommended that Jobs for West Virginia Graduates, Inc. get $130,000 to keep its programs in Greenbrier and Logan counties running. The money will go almost entirely toward salaries, Rev. Brent Sturm -- who heads up the organization -- said. The funding will allow the program to continue to serve 120 students.

Other projects Tomblin recommended for funding were:

  • $1.25 million to the Marion County Commission for sewer line replacement
  • $100,000 to the West Virginia Development Office for the West Virginia Flex-E Grant program
  • $350,000 to the West Virginia Development Office for the Consolidated Technical Assistance program
  • $225,000 to the West Virginia Development Office for the Competitive Improvement program

The approval process from the ARC takes about four to six weeks, and all the projects are expected to get approved, said James Bush, ARC state program manager.

Reach Alison Matas at alison.matas@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5100.


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