As his time in office nears its end, Governor Steve Beshear has announced the investments he and his administration have made in Kentucky communities, including Grayson County.
“When I took office as governor in 2007, Kentuckians had lost faith in their government and a global recession was taking away jobs, homes, and health care,” Beshear said in a recent news release. “Today, thanks to our partnership with a lot of people, including the citizens and officials of Grayson County, Kentucky’s economy is setting records, and our families are again getting high return on the money and trust they invest in their leaders.”
In Grayson County, Beshear said, he and his administration have invested $43 million in transportation projects, $40 million in economics, and $1.4 million in agriculture.
Kentucky’s unemployment rate has recently been holding steady at 5.2 percent, down from nearly 11 percent at the height of the recession, and, in Grayson County, the unemployment rate stands at 6.1 percent, according to the release.
“Through our ongoing partnership with local officials in Grayson County, we have been able to make numerous critical investments to improve the quality of life in this community,” Beshear said.
According to the news release from Beshear’s office, the Governor’s investments in Grayson County include:
Agricultural Development: The Kentucky Agricultural Development Board, chaired by Beshear, has invested $1.4 million in Grayson County over the last eight years in an array of projects and on-farm improvement programs focused on creating markets for agricultural products and helping increase net farm income.
Economic Development: Since January 2008, Grayson County has announced 12 new and expansion projects, which are projected to create 542 jobs and $40.3 million in new investment.
Education: Beshear, in partnership with the Governor’s Office of Early Childhood, has awarded Grayson County’s Community Early Childhood Council $53,072 to promote school readiness for children. The governor also awarded the community $5,800 as part of a $1.4 million expansion of United Way Born Learning Academies across the state. These academies engage families to foster early learning at home.
Workforce: Grayson County is a certified Work Ready Community in Progress. The county is working to meet the full criteria of Work Ready Community status, which assures employers that the local workforce has the talent and skills necessary to staff existing jobs and to master the innovative technologies new jobs will require.
Transportation: Beshear has partnered with the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet to authorize over $43 million since Dec. 10, 2007 for activities in Grayson County, including road construction, highway safety initiatives, resurfacing, and other transportation projects.
Major road projects include:
· Wendell H. Ford Western Kentucky Parkway rehabilitation and overlays, which were completed in various stages from 2008-2014. The cost of the project was $16.79 million.
· U.S. 62 widening to three lanes through Clarkson. It is currently in the design phase. $1.1 million have been invested in the project to date.
· KY 88 bridge replacement at Bear Creek, which was completed in 2013 and cost $740,000.
Community Development: Beshear’s administration partnered with the Department for Local Governments to authorize $562,000 in state and federal investments since January 2008 for activities in Grayson County.
Safety: Grayson County has received over $161,000 in funding through the State Homeland Security Grant Program (SHGP) and/or the Law Enforcement Protection Program (LEPP). The SHGP funds a variety of devices including communication, first responder, physical, and cyber security equipment. LEPP funds body armor, Tasers, and duty weapons.
Energy and Environment: $10,000 in total grants have been awarded as funding for farm energy efficiency and renewable energy projects.
Health care coverage: Beshear has sought to provide access to comprehensive, quality, affordable health care coverage to more Kentuckians, including Grayson County residents, through Kentucky’s health benefit exchange, kynect.
· In Grayson County, prior to Medicaid expansion, the uninsured rate was 19 percent; now, it is 4.6 percent—a 75.7 percent reduction. Besides consumers, Kentucky’s medical providers, such as hospitals, pharmacies, and primary care physicians, have had the most noticeable, immediate positive impact of Medicaid expansion through the influx of new dollars, according to the release.
· Since 2014, new Medicaid expansion payments to Grayson County providers totaled more than $11.4 million. Since 2014, total payments to Twin Lakes Regional Medical Center, excluding Disproportionate Share Hospital payments, totaled more than $4.5 million, the release states.
Tourism: The economic impact from tourism in Kentucky has increased by more than $2.2 billion and 13,000 jobs statewide over the last five years. Grayson County is also seeing an increase in tourism, as its 2014 tourism economic impact was $27.8 million, a 15 percent increase from the previous year. The county’s 2014 tourism employment was the equivalent of 609 jobs.
“Over the last eight years, I’ve worked under the guiding principle that government should work for its people,” Beshear said. “[First Lady Jane Beshear] and I have been honored to be a part of Kentucky’s growth the last eight years, and we look forward to seeing Kentucky progress for generations to come. Thank you for allowing me to serve as your Governor.”
On Election Day (Tuesday, Nov. 3), Kentuckians will elect their new governor. The candidates are Republican Matt Bevin, Democrat Jack Conway, and Independent Drew Curtis.
Reach Matt Lasley at 270-259-9622, ext. 2015.