Labor Day is traditionally celebrated with parades, festivals, and recreational activities for our country’s workers and their families. However, this year is a bit more unconventional than years before. Like many of the planned festivities in 2020, including the 146th Kentucky Derby which will run with no fans in attendance, the coronavirus has altered how we typically gather and celebrate.

Gov. Andy Beshear announced several Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) and Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) Regional Development Agency Assistance Program grants for Eastern Kentucky communities.

Hindman will use a $138,860 grant for the Appalachian Artisan Center of Kentucky to support organizational operations and ensure sustainable infrastructure to implement various programs including those for recovery from substance abuse and opioid addiction. The project is expected to help 31 workers and 3,395 participants across 17 Appalachian communities.

Hazard Troublesome Creek Environmental Authority will use a $500,240 ARC grant for the Drone Port Water and Sewer Collection project, which will serve both Perry and Knott counties. The project will include the construction of 7,500 linear feet of force main and one lift station. The lift station will pump wastewater from a lower elevation to a higher one when natural flow does not happen due to slopes. Upon completion, this will allow the tenants to complete their research and commercial activities. It will also create 12 new jobs.

Floyd County will use a $248,955 grant for the Estill Bottom Emergency Water Line Relocation Project to repair an outdated water line and ensure continued service. Upon completion, Floyd County will extend 1,700 linear feet of water line to provide better quality drinking water and full service for 15 businesses and 300 households in the area.

Harlan County Fiscal Court will use $153,846 from RDAAP funds for the Business Park Natural Gas Infrastructure Project. They will use the funds to develop a natural gas utility system in the Tri-Cities area of the county in the Harlan County Business Park.

These projects are designed to assist in generating economic activity and tackling two longstanding problems in Eastern Kentucky; opiate addiction and wastewater. I look forward to working with Gov. Beshear and local officials on seeing these projects come to fruition. I appreciate the Governor and his work on this; investing in our Eastern Kentucky region and our people.

The Governor also urged all Kentuckians this week to make a plan to vote, either by mail, in person during early voting, or in-person on Election Day. If you are worried about COVID-19 and voting in person, you now can go to www.GoVoteKy.com and request an absentee ballot for the November 3, general election. The deadline to request your absentee ballot is October 9. I also encourage everyone to brainstorm a voting plan as Election Day is rapidly approaching. Be a voter!

As I mentioned last week, an Executive Order put into place states that landlords must provide tenants with a 30-day notice before they can be evicted. The notice sent to the tenant would request a meeting, and during these 30 days, the landlord and tenant must meet and consult to settle the issue. Through this program, penalties and late fees cannot be charged against the tenant from March 6 to December 30. If you or someone you know is facing eviction, contact the Kentucky COVID-19 Legal Helpline toll-free at 833-540-0342 or visit kycovidlegalhelp.org.

During Labor Day weekend we pay tribute to the contributions of our nation’s workers and the strength, prosperity, well-being, and can-do-spirit of our great country and commonwealth. The holiday was conceived to recognize the social and economic achievements of the American worker. The first observation was held by the Central Labor Union on Tuesday, September 5, 1882, in New York City. It became a federal holiday in 1894. Monday is a day set aside for we as a nation to pause to reflect on the meaning of labor for all Americans.

The working men and women of this country have helped our nation progress closer to realizing our traditional ideals of economic and political democracy for all. In our great country, if we work hard, work smart, and work together, the American dream is within grasp. I wish a happy Labor Day to you and your family. Celebrate safe, celebrate smart.

As we look toward next week, September Interim Joint Committee meetings will continue throughout the month. I presume these meetings will consist mostly of subject matter related to the effects of COVID-19. For a full, in-depth look at what is on tap for this month, you can visit the Interim Session calendar at https://legislature.ky.gov/.

I ask that you stay safe and wear a mask when going about in public. We will make it through this together! If you have any comments, questions, or concerns, I remain accessible by email at, JohnnyRay.Turner@LRC.KY.GOV.

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