Discusses Nearly $11M in Grants For School Vocational Project, Tourism, and Water Infrastructure for County
Darren Doyle, story and photos:
Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear visited Edmonson County High School today to discuss nearly $11M in state funding that's coming to the county. ECHS will receive funding for Local Area Vocational Education Centers (LAVEC) revitalization and renovation projects, along with 10 other schools that did not receive funding from the grant program the previous year. The school will receive $10M for a remodel of their vocational program facilities, which haven't received any major renovations since the school was built in 1981.
"Today is going to be a really good day for Edmonson County," said Beshear. "In fact, we're here with roughly with $10.7 million dollars of investment in this school system and in this county."
Beshear discussed the tough past three years that included the pandemic, the tornadoes of last year, ice storms, and current inflation that is causing problems for families everywhere across the Commonwealth.
"But I'm here to tell you that Kentucky is turning the page and I hope you feel it, too. It's like that song that says 'weeping may linger in the evening but joy comes in the morning.' I feel like we're truly moving from that dark, difficult time that these past few years have been, into one of more brightness, optimism, and possibility and potential for every single Kentuckian, and every single region."
Superintendent of Edmonson Schools Brian Alexander spoke at today's ceremony.
"Before the renovation of our vocational center even became a thought, our board had the foresight to expand our career pathways here," Alexander said. "The reality of being able to expand and renovate our vocational centers puts an exclamation point on their commitment and their vision."
Alexander recognized the board members, faculty, school administration, and district & board administration for their efforts in moving forward with vocational programs and the LAVEC project.
"I want to thank you, Governor Beshear," Alexander added. "Without your help and support, and without the fight that you put up in putting this funding in your executive budget, we wouldn't be where we are today."
Governor Beshear spoke to the Edmonson Voice about the criteria for schools to receive the funding.
"In the first round, it was all competitive grants, so schools put in their plans, what it would mean for their students, and their communities--talked about their various tracks and disciplines that they had," he said. "What we found was a huge desire and a huge need for investment in this area. The difference for those who qualified in the first round and didn't was a half a point to a point and-a-half. So we specifically came back and wrote in those who had been close, to the next budget, knowing that they'd already applied, and what a great application it was. So it was truly the school system, their grant writers coming together and putting a compelling case that we see in action."
Beshear also told the Voice that working with the state legislature was "actually seamless," to secure the funding.
"We see a whole lot about when we disagree, (but) we were all on board with this," he said. "With the best two years of economic development in our history, with advanced manufacturing like electric vehicle batteries growing day-by-day, the electric battery capital of the world, we know this investment is needed right now, to have the type of highly trained workforce we need, there was never any hesitation. I think you'll see more funding in the next budget."
In addition to the funding for the LAVEC project, the Governor also presented ceremonial checks to two other county entities. The Edmonson County Tourism Commission will receive $36,387 in state funding to help support local tourism, and the Edmonson County Water District will receive $736,590 to bolster the county's water infrastructure.
State Representative Michael Meredith also thanked the Governor for visiting ECHS, the school from which Meredith graduated.
"If you look across our region and our area, you will find that Edmonson County has the finest tradespeople in the world," said Meredith. "Whether it's electrical, whether it's plumbers, whether they're auto mechanics, welders, we have the best and the finest you'll find anywhere. And for too long, at the state level, we've put our focus just solely on college and pushing kids to that field, but with investments like this today, show that we're not just investing in college, we're investing in the careers of these young people, and we're going to be able to replace these folks who have served our community so well as they start to retire."
Beshear then went on a tour of the current vocational facilities, that included business, healthcare, engineering, ag, auto shop, and welding, all of which look much the same as they did over 40 years ago.
Construction for the new project will begin soon and it will be located on the north side of the school, between the gym and the current auto mechanics and welding shop.