FRANKFORT, Ky. (April 5, 2012) – Governor Steve Beshear and Congressman Hal Rogers Thursday announced $100,000 in Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) funds have been approved to help begin the process of rebuilding the city of West Liberty and Morgan County. The entire area suffered extensive damage as a result of the devastating storms and tornados that ripped through Kentucky last month.
The combined ARC funding includes $50,000 from the ARC 2012 Distressed County funds and $50,000 from the ARC co-chair’s account. The funds will be used to hire an architect to develop a conceptual plan for the professional rebuilding of the city of West Liberty and Morgan County.
“One month ago, Kentuckians endured furious storm and tornado damage that was nothing short of a disaster,” said Governor Beshear. “I saw destruction unlike anything I had seen before and talked with citizens who literally saw their homes, schools and churches disappear. Ensuring that the city of West Liberty and Morgan County have a strategic reconstruction plan in place will allow federal and state dollars to be used in the most efficient and effective way. I commend ARC for their assistance in this process and want to reassure the residents of Morgan County that we will continue to support them and use every resource possible to help restore their community.”
The goal of the redevelopment plan will be to incorporate the integrity of the stone fronts and remaining buildings’ architecture in rebuilding efforts, while encouraging innovative and energy efficient designs for the new structures. This plan will include designs for streets, traffic flow, land use, cultural aspects, tourism and the overall aesthetics of the city and county.
“The devastating storms that wreaked havoc on our region last month may have destroyed our towns, our bricks and our mortar – but they could never have destroyed our community. I have been moved and incredibly impressed by the way our people have come together in the wake of this tragedy to help one another rebuild, and the work of federal, state and local first responders cannot be overstated,” said Congressman Hal Rogers. “The Appalachian Regional Commission has been an incredible partner in this region, and I’m pleased ARC has committed $100,000 to start the process of rebuilding West Liberty. We have a long way to go, but this funding is a critical step in the right direction.”
The F3 tornado that stuck West Liberty and Morgan County damaged or destroyed every city, county and state facility in the area. More than 400 homes were destroyed or suffered so much damage they were inhabitable. A total of 73 businesses and six churches were also demolished. Six people died in Morgan County, and hundreds more were displaced from their homes.
“In addition to state and federal aid, this grant is greatly appreciated for the much needed planning and restoration efforts of West Liberty,” said Sen. Robert Stivers. “We want our community to have a solid comeback and this is another step towards reaching that goal.”
“We are grateful for this funding to begin our redevelopment efforts,” said Rep. John Will Stacy. “Having a strategic plan to incorporate our former building fronts and architecture into the new structures will help preserve our past as we build toward our future. The $100,000 will help jumpstart this process and energize our people and we appreciate ARC’s generous contribution.”
“We are so appreciative of the Governor, ARC, the state and federal delegation for their leadership and for helping our community during this difficult time”, said Morgan County Judge Executive Tim Conley. “It is going to be a long road to recovery, but we know that with support of our state and the will of our citizens, West Liberty and Morgan County will once again thrive as great community in Kentucky.”
“Our community has suffered an extreme crisis with the loss of several homes, businesses, churches and government buildings,” said West Liberty Mayor Rupe. “We are very thankful to the Governor, Congressman Rogers, ARC and everyone who is working to help our town rebuild and return to what it used to be.”
“ARC is pleased to commit $100,000 in funding for a development plan to rebuild West Liberty in wake of the devastating tornado damage it sustained in March,” said ARC co-chair Earl Gohl. “Congressman Hal Rogers and Governor Steven Beshear are to be commended for their leadership in marshaling needed resources to re-energize business activity and job creation in West Liberty following its heavy losses. ARC looks forward to working with local leaders in West Liberty in their planning efforts to restore social and economic normalcy there.”
Established by Congress in 1965, ARC partners with federal, state and local governments in efforts to support sustainable community and economic growth throughout Appalachia. ARC funds projects ranging from education and job training to housing and business expansion, transportation and infrastructure development. Kentucky’s 54 most eastern and south-central counties qualify for ARC funding.