U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander today praised the approval by the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW) of legislation that would reauthorize $511 million over 5 years for the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC). Senator Alexander serves on the EPW Committee and is an original cosponsor of the bill, the Appalachian Regional Development Act Amendments of 2007.
Over the past 40 years, the ARC has brought numerous public works and other projects to Tennessee. It runs grant programs designed to boost critical access to housing, health care, the Internet and other services in the Appalachian region, Alexander said. “The culture and heritage of the Appalachians is a story of resiliency and American perseverance. This legislation will continue the federal government's longstanding commitment to encouraging economic development in Tennessee and throughout the Appalachian region."
The ARC was created to address economic and social problems in an area that spans all of West Virginia and parts of 12 other states. The bill approved by the committee would extend recently expired programs under the Appalachian Regional Development Act of 1965. Funding would be authorized at at $95.2 million in fiscal 2007, $98.6 million in fiscal 2008, $102 million in fiscal 2009, $105.7 million in fiscal 2010 and $109.4 million in fiscal 2011. The most recent authorization expired at the end of fiscal year 2006.
A companion measure won approval by the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure on March 6.
The ARC’s current Tennessee projects include:
The Silver Lake Water Treatment Plant in Mountain City: $500,000 to upgrade Mountain City’s drinking water system, support the creation of 74 new jobs, and leverage $900,000 in private investment. The current plant doesn’t meet state standards and has defective valves and unusable service pumps.
Infrastructure improvements in Morristown: $500,000 for extension of needed water and sewer facilities, electrical service and rail infrastructure to permit development of a new consumer products manufacturing and distribution facility. The company is committed to investing $54 million in site development and the project will create 220 jobs in three years. The rail spur will be extended to the production area of the plant.
Infrastructure improvements in Vonore (Monroe County): $250,000 for Tellico West Industrial park to support the creation of 300 new jobs and leverage $9.4 million in private investment. The project involves construction of a lake access dock and ramp for boat manufacturers.
The Little Milligan water line extension in Carter County: $500,000 to construct a water system to serve 225 households and 5 businesses. Most of the households had being relying on water from wells and streams that were often contaminated.
A wastewater collection system in Celina (Clay County): $500,000 to correct problems in the city’s wastewater collection system and provide improved service to 756 households, 78 commercial and 4 industrial sewer users.
S. 496 now awaits further action by the full Senate.