Governor's Office for Local Development
Governor announces grants for Lancaster, Garrard County projects
LANCASTER, Ky. (July 7, 2009) – Governor Steve Beshear today announced two grants to support community initiatives and improve the quality of life for residents of Garrard County. The Garrard County Fiscal Court was awarded $500,000 for the restoration of the downtown Grand Theater and the city of Lancaster received $166,400 for the expansion of the Garrard County Cooperative Parish (GCCP) service facility.
Both grants are Community Development Block Grants (CDBG), administered by the Governor’s Office, Department for Local Government (DLG). These projects were selected for funding based upon factors including: job creation; they can get underway immediately; and they help stabilize the region through economic development or by providing a human service need.
“In these tumultuous times, the short-term survival of our Kentucky families must be our top concern in state government,” said Gov. Beshear. “At the same time, however, we must strategically invest in our state’s future so that when the economy improves – and it will – we will be poised for growth and success.”
The Garrard County Fiscal Court applied for the grant on behalf of the Lancaster Grand Theater, Inc, a non-profit organization that was created in 2005 to revitalize downtown Lancaster in order to deter crime and clean up the blighted area. The organization hopes restoration of the theater will serve as an engine to drive further economic development in the area with new businesses, shops and restaurants.
Once completed, the theater will seat over 700 and will host national cultural and artistic events. The facility will also be available for use by community groups, the local high school and the Lancaster Higher Education Facility, which is a partnership between Eastern Kentucky University and the Bluegrass Community and Technical College (BCTC).
“The restoration of the Grand Theater is a great thing for Lancaster as we try revitalize downtown,” said Representative Lonnie Napier. “This theater is one of the prettiest in the country and I believe once we restore it back to its original beauty, it will serve as a great asset to us.”
Although the theater, which opened in 1925, closed its doors to the public in 1965, many of the fine details of its splendour remain intact. The county plans to have the theater reopened in time to capitalize on the thousands of tourists that will be visiting Kentucky for the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, scheduled for Sept. 25- Oct. 10, 2010, in Lexington.
According to Garrard County Judge Executive John Wilson, the restoration of the Grand Theater will attract people, both local and out of town visitors, to the downtown area.
“This has been an extremely blighted and dilapidated area for a long time and this money will help clean it up,” he said. “I’m appreciative to the Department for Local Government and Gov. Beshear for their support and partnership to get this project underway. The community is very excited about this cornerstone of our revitalization efforts.”
Founded in 1987, the GCCP operates a food bank, a clothing/household item bank, a job referral program, and also provides utility assistance for citizens of Lancaster and Garrard County. The city will use the $166,400 grant to assist with contruction of a 2,000 square foot commercial building for the expansion of the GCCP service facility.
“The Garrard County Cooperative Parish is extremely important to our community,” said Lancaster Mayor Donald Rinthen. “They may distribute necessary household items in the case of a house fire or provide food and clothing to a family that has run into troubled times.”
All of the GCCP’s programs are currently housed in an inadequate 1,024 square foot converted residence. The facility is filled beyond capacity with food, clothing and household items. Currently, clients have no privacy when meeting with the Jobs Referral Coordinator.
According to GCCP records, it distributed food stamps and dry goods to 320 income-eligible families in 2008. Regional county schools, through the Family Resource Center, send an average of 40 children per month to the center for clothing assistance. Since the inception of the Jobs Referral Program, 120 people have earned their GEDs, 74 have been placed in permanent jobs and over 120 have been employed in part-time or temporary jobs. In 2008, 98 families were assisted with rent and utility assistance.
“The expansion of this service facility will allow GCCP to better serve their mission of helping the people of Garrard County,” said Mayor Rinthen.
Kentucky’s CDBG receives funding through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The state’s U. S. Congressional leaders’ continued support of the CDBG program ensures the availability of continued funding in Kentucky and nationally.