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Inside Information: September–December 1996 Issue

Patton, Rogers Meet with ARC

Congressman Hal Rogers, representative of Kentucky's Fifth Congressional District, joined Kentucky Governor Paul Patton and other Commission members at a meeting of the Appalachian Regional Commission in Somerset, Kentucky, in October. Patton and Rogers praised ARC's work in the state and pledged their continued support for the program. The meeting was chaired by ARC Federal Co-Chairman Jesse L. White Jr.

Governor Patton said that ARC represents the federal government's recognition that some areas of the nation have suffered a chronic lack of economic opportunity. He said, "We, as a society, cannot be all that we can be unless all members of the society have an equal opportunity to contribute."

Representative Rogers noted continuing economic progress in eastern Kentucky. He said, "The pendulum is swinging, investments are paying dividends, new roads, water lines, regional education efforts, focused business-recruitment strategies . . . these are working. And ARC has been a major part of all of those."

The two-day meeting began at the Somerset Center for Rural Development. Introducing Governor Patton and Representative Rogers, Federal Co-Chairman White said that the meeting in Somerset was an historic event for the Commission. "I think it's very important that the Commission chose the heart of Appalachia to come to; as most of you know, the Commission holds this part of Appalachia in a special place in its heart," White said.

The Commission approved guidelines for ARC's strategic plan, which was formally adopted in 1996. The guidelines will serve member states and LDDs in their development of projects aimed at meeting the ARC goals contained in the plan.

Commission members also heard presentations by Forward in the Fifth, a community-school partnership that works to improve education in Kentucky's Fifth Congressional District, and by the Christian Appalachian Project, a self-help program for the economically disadvantaged in eastern Kentucky. Other speakers were Ewell Balltrip, executive director of the Kentucky Appalachian Commission, and Ron Eller, director of the Appalachian Center at the University of Kentucky.

Eller's presentation centered on Kentucky's distressed counties. He noted that the areas in the state receiving the highest levels of Aid to Families with Dependent Children funding were in the distressed counties and that "the new Welfare Reform Act presents us with some tremendous opportunities that we've not had before. . . . It really is going to force us to deal with job creation and addressing the issues in these most severely distressed areas." ARC should be working on developing specific strategies for the distressed counties, he said, because their needs are different from those of other parts of the Region.

The Commission approved funding for the seventh session of ARC's highly successful math-science education enrichment program for Appalachian students and teachers held during the summer at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. Also on the agenda was a review of projects undertaken during 1996 under special regional initiatives in telecommunications, civic leadership, and international trade development.

The Commission concluded the meeting by visiting several ARC-funded projects in Wayne and McCreary Counties.

DDAA Provides Training

The Development District Association of Appalachia (DDAA) sponsored two programs this fall to provide training to Appalachia's local development district staff and other interested groups.

A financial management workshop was broadcast in September from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. Opened by Federal Co-Chairman White from a downlink site in Pennsylvania, the broadcast was received by more than 1,000 participants through 48 downlink sites arranged by local development districts throughout Appalachia. Sites outside of Appalachia were also able to receive the broadcast, and Civic Network Television made the workshop available through all of its broadcast sites.

The audience for the workshop included LDD staff and board members and the staffs of local government and nonprofit agencies, universities, colleges, hospitals, and state and federal agencies.

The program was taped for the library of training programs being developed by the DDAA. For information on borrowing the tape, contact Bob Sokolowski at (202) 884-7707.

In October the DDAA sponsored a three-day workshop to provide LDD staff with training in export development. The workshop, held in Roanoke, Virginia, drew more than 80 participants from the LDDs.

The program began with training in cross-cultural communications. Participants then chose one of three tracks offering topics such as international legal issues, banking, freight forwarding, and marketing.

Cumberland Gap Tunnel Opens

Governors Paul Patton of Kentucky, Don Sundquist of Tennessee, and George Allen of Virginia met at the junction of their states on October 18 to dedicate and open the newly completed Cumberland Gap Tunnel.

The $240 million project, undertaken in 1979, provided for construction of the tunnel, which houses a four-lane dual highway, as part of the relocation of a 2.3-mile stretch of U.S. 25E. This stretch is to be part of Appalachian Corridor F, which originally crossed over the Gap into Tennessee (on U.S. 25E) and Virginia (on U.S. 58).

Future plans call for restoration of the historic passageway to approximate its 1790-1810 appearance. The Gap is the site of the old Wilderness Road, opened by Daniel Boone and other scouts who penetrated the territory west of the Appalachians. The trail was first blazed by Native American inhabitants of the region.

White, Slater Tour Corridors

ARC Federal Co-Chairman Jesse L. White Jr. and Federal Highway Administrator Rodney Slater took a historic road trip together through three Appalachian states in September for a close-up view of progress and remaining work to be done on several stretches of the Appalachian Development Highway System (ADHS).

The trip took the two federal officials to ADHS corridors in West Virginia, Kentucky, and Ohio. The federal co-chairman invited Slater to make the trip after they testified in support of completing the system before the U.S. House Subcommittee on Surface Transportation in June 1996.

About 75 percent of the 3,025-mile ADHS is now complete or under way. The total mileage has been authorized for construction by Congress, but a reduced level of ARC appropriations has resulted in extremely slow progress over the past 15 years. The 13 Appalachian states are currently preparing detailed estimates of the cost to complete the ADHS.

ARC and the Federal Highway Administration have agreed to work together to explore alternatives for funding the completion of the ADHS, which currently is estimated to need between $4.9 billion and $6.3 billion in federal funds to complete the remaining work.

Senator Robert Byrd has pledged his support for securing additional ADHS funds to complete the system when the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA) comes under consideration by Congress in 1997. ARC continues to place top priority on completion of the ADHS because of its enormous contribution to Appalachia's economic development.

Legislative Update

On September 30, President Clinton signed into law the Energy and Water Development Appropriations Act of 1997, providing ARC appropriations for the fiscal year beginning October 1, 1996. Total FY 1997 ARC funds of $160 million include $57 million for area development, $99.7 million for highways, and $3.3 million for administrative costs.