The City of Hazard welcomed state and federal leaders Tuesday morning for what Mayor Donald “Happy” Mobelini called “a great day.” More than $10.6 million in federal and state funding will build a new water treatment plant and ambulance station in the community.
U.S. Representative Hal Rogers (R), Governor Andy Beshear (D), and Kentucky Senator Brandon Smith (R-Hazard) joined others to present the cities of Hazard and Buckhorn an $8.9 million check for the new water plant.
Rogers commented on how nice it was to have something to celebrate in an area devastated by recent flash flooding. “It is also a great example of what we can accomplish when federal, state, and local leaders work together to improve local water service,” he said.
The new plant on the Kentucky River will relieve stress on the existing Hazard water system, which has a 5-million-gallon capacity but has been operating at 5.3 million gallons. Mayor Mobelini told attendees at Tuesday’s news conference that the new plant will boost economic development. “Water almost took us out, but water can build us back, too,” he remarked. Buckhorn Mayor Tom Burns said the addition would benefit cities throughout the region.
Funding for the water plant comes from various sources:
- $5 million ‒ U.S. Economic Development Administration
- $2 million ‒ Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program
- $1 million ‒ Abandoned Mine Lands Economic Revitalization (AMLER) program
- $893,200 ‒ Appalachian Regional Commission
Rogers said he requested an additional $2.5 million in federal funds to help build the new plant and lay new water lines.
In addition to the water plant, the City of Hazard received $1.8 million in CDBG funds to construct a new ambulance station in a vacant building.
Smith touted the multimillion-dollar investments as vital to eastern Kentucky and the state. “Clean water is the fundamental bedrock of any thriving community,” he stated. He called the ambulance expansion “long overdue” and remarked on the timing of both announcements. “These funds will go a long way in ensuring structure and normalcy for residents after so many have been left traumatized by the recent flooding events.”
The City of Wheelwright will also get a new 432,000-gallon water treatment plant. The Appalachian Regional Commission approved $770,669 in funding for the project. “This new plant is going to really help our people and businesses,” Wheelwright Mayor Don Hall said. “Wheelwright will benefit from this project for years to come.”
Kentucky also moved more travel trailers into flood-damaged areas on Tuesday, including 41 in Hazard. Louisiana donated more than 300. To date, 299 people have relocated to 197 travel trailers.