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Beshear, Rogers celebrate completion of abandoned mine lands project with virtual ribbon cutting

By Tom Latek
Kentucky Today

A virtual ribbon-cutting took place at the State Capitol and three other locations on Thursday to officially mark the completion of abandoned mine land projects in eastern Kentucky.

Gov. Andy Beshear and Fifth District Congressman Hal Rogers, R-Somerset, did the honors in the Capitol Rotunda, while others involved in the projects also did ribbon-cuttings simultaneously in their home counties.

In addition to celebrating the completion of the AML Pilot Program economic development and tourism-related projects in Perry, Floyd and Clay counties, they also mentioned the beginning of new construction at the EastPark Industrial Site, spanning Boyd, Carter, Elliott, Greenup and Lawrence counties.

Gov. Andy Beshear, right, and Congressman Hal Rogers got the ribbon on the Abandoned Mine Land project in the Capitol Rotunda while workers from Dajcor Aluminum Extruding Mill in Perry County are shown virtually cutting the ribbon. (Photo by Tom Latek, Kentucky Today)

During the ceremony, Rogers noted, “Today, we celebrate the revival of abandoned mine lands, which are coming back to life in the form of new industries and new opportunities.”

Rogers said the federal AML project has $540 million going to six Appalachian states, with $130 million of it earmarked for Kentucky.

Gov. Beshear said this is an example of his commitment to bringing economic opportunity to all regions of Kentucky. “We’ve already made great strides in bringing greater investment to the region. In the coming months and years, more and more of these projects will continue, bringing jobs and economic diversity to Eastern Kentucky.”

One of the projects honored Thursday was the Dajcor Aluminum Extruding Mill, located at the Coal Fields Regional Industrial Park in Perry County, a former mine site, which received $6.5 million in AML Pilot funding to purchase a new aluminum extrusion press from Italy.

The press is now operational and is owned by the county and leased to Dajcor for 15 years. Dajcor Aluminum Ltd., a Canadian manufacturer of extruded and fabricated aluminum products, has hired 32 employees and plans to create up to 265 full-time jobs in its first U.S. operation near Hazard.

“We are extremely happy with our new location in Eastern Kentucky and the workforce skills of our employees,” said Mike Kilby, president and CEO of Dajcor. “We wouldn’t be here without the efforts of Congressman Rogers, Senator McConnell, Governor Beshear and One East Kentucky. Their collaboration and assistance via the AML Pilot Program made choosing this location an easy decision for our company. I am very proud of our team and the work they did to bring this project to completion despite the current pandemic.”

The Prestonsburg-to-David Rails to Trails project, funded with $1.95 million in AML Pilot funding, extends the existing Garfield Trail, connecting Prestonsburg with the Middle Creek National Civil War Battlefield and on to the historic community of David, a former coal town.

Impact Outdoor Adventures, an RV/camping facility located at an abandoned mine lands site in Clay County, opened last month thanks to a $700,000 AML Pilot grant. Visitors now enjoy archery, mountain biking, kayaking, hiking and camping at the site. Eastern Kentucky PRIDE Inc. oversaw the project, which included construction of access roads, drainage controls and a new RV campground with electric, water and sewer connections.

EastPark, a multiuse industrial park at the junction of Boyd, Greenup and Carter counties near Ashland and Grayson, is beginning new site work through a $4 million AML pilot grant.

The project will involve site stabilization through the placement and monitoring of approximately 600,000 cubic yards of on-site earthen material in three phases over 22 weeks. This will allow the installation of a grid of aggregate and concrete support piers and columns, via a separately funded project, on an 84-acre site that will support the weight of future economic development.

The 800-acre EastPark is the creation of Boyd, Carter, Elliott, Greenup and Lawrence County governments and the commonwealth of Kentucky and hosts businesses that employ 1,076 people.

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