Mon Mar 20, 2017, 05:25 PM
Arkansas Granny (19,641 posts)
The More Mundane Savagery of Donald Trump's Budget
Olive Hill, Kentucky, is a shitty town of poor people in a beautiful area of Kentucky, in Carter County, near the border where the state meets both Ohio and West Virginia. The population is pretty much 100% white, about a third of the population lives at or below the poverty line, and one out of every 79 residents is a registered sex offender. And the water system in town is so outdated that "Two surveys estimate a 45-50 percent water loss due to corroded piping." You can bet there are issues with the quality of that water coming from the corroded cast iron waterline. But the town, which voted for Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton by 74% to 22%, just got a grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission, a cooperative effort of the state and federal governments to help some of the poorest areas of the country. The $243,000 grant may not seem like much, but for a small town like Olive Hill, it'll be transformative for the health and well-being of the people there.
ARC was part of the Appalachian Regional Development Act of 1965, passed on a bipartisan basis, signed by LBJ. The whole thing came about after John F. Kennedy had a report done on the ludicrous poverty under which people were living in the Appalachian area, which includes 13 states. Their governors, mostly Republicans, but some Democrats, sit on the commission (Kentucky's own Matt Bevins works with them constantly, and he's a bastard) along with a presidential appointee. That's currently Earl Gohl, who was confirmed by a voice vote in the Senate in 2010. So since its creation, ARC has been a fairly noncontroversial program.
In fact, you could argue it is doing more for the coal miners than Donald Trump could ever manage. ARC helped give nearly $3 million in a grant to an effort called TechHire Eastern Kentucky in order to retrain workers for jobs in technology and communications, with a big push for investment in the region for the development of a tech sector. The first pilot class of trainees had 1600 applicants for roughly 50 seats. It's a start.
Carter County and most of Eastern Kentucky are in what ARC calls "Distressed Counties," 84 areas that ARC is directing aid and grants to try to pull the region out of poverty, with another 100 or so counties considered "At Risk" for slipping into the "Distressed" category. The agency funded 400 projects last year. In fiscal 2015, ARC was responsible for finding jobs for over 23,000 people. This is in addition to the infrastructure spending, including electricity, telecommunications, roads, and, yes, water. A couple of dozen of the funded projects had to do with drinking water in the region.
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