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WKU Public Radio is part of a new regional journalism collaborative known as the Ohio Valley ReSource. It's made up of public media stations across Kentucky, Ohio and West Virginia. The collaborative will focus on the changing economy in the region and its effect on jobs, healthcare and infrastructure. Each station taking part in the Ohio Valley ReSource is hiring a reporter to contribute to the effort. WKU Public Radio's reporter is Alana Watson, who will be based in the Bowling Green newsroom. The Ohio Valley ReSource is made possible by member stations and through a grant from the Corporation For Public Broadcasting.

Ohio Valley Communities Wait For Guidance On COVID Funds

Liam James Doyle/NPR

 The American Rescue Plan Act signed into law by President Joe Biden on March 11 provided the nation with a $1.9 trillion economic stimulus, including funds to state and local governments, but local officials around the Ohio Valley say they aren’t yet sure just how the money can be applied.  

The aid package includes $350 billion set aside for state and local governments to help communities recover from the pandemic, with about $17.5 billion for Kentucky, Ohio and West Virginia. Now the question is how those communities will put the money to use.

Carolyn Maloney, chairwoman of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, said in a press release that she was proud of her colleagues for listening to governors, mayors, workers, tribes, and others who were in need of aid. 

“Critical services must be restored, jobs must be saved, and local and state governments must finally receive the help they need to fight the pandemic,” she said. “That is exactly what our landmark legislation will do.” 

According to committee data, Kentucky is expected to get roughly  $4.2 billion, Ohio will receive $11.2 billion, and West Virginia would get nearly $2.1 billion. Those funds are distributed throughout the states to metro cities, counties, non-counties, state governments, and state capital projects; 60% of the funds would go to state governments and 40% directly to localities. 

In Kentucky, nearly $2.6 billion will go to the state and the remaining funds will go to the Commonwealth’s local governments. In Ohio, $5.9 billion of the $11.2 billion will go to the state government while $5.3 billion will go to local governments. In West Virginia, roughly $1.4 billion will go to the state government and remaining funds will go to local governments. 

Local government officials around the Ohio Valley said they are still waiting on guidance from the Treasury Department on how the funds can be used, but some have their lists ready for potential projects. Lyon County, Kentucky, Judge Executive Wade White said running fiber internet to his citizens would be of interest when his county receives $1.5 million.  

Cities and counties in the region are getting dedicated allotments based on population, according to the committee. Here are a few estimated amounts that communities in the region will receive: Jefferson County, Kentucky, will receive around $148 million and Franklin County, Ohio, is expected to get $255 million. Wheeling, West Virginia, is receiving nearly $30 million while Elkins, West Virginia, gets roughly $3 million.

Ohio Valley residents can visitthe committee website to see estimated funding for their communities and download a spreadsheet with the information. 

Former student intern Alana Watson rejoined WKU Public Radio in August 2020 as the Ohio Valley ReSource economics reporter. She transitioned to the station's All Things Considered Host in July of 2020 and became the student reporting and producing specialist in 2023. Watson has a B.A. in Broadcasting Journalism for Western Kentucky University and a M.A in Communications from Austin Peay State University. She is a Nashville native and has interned at WPLN-FM in Nashville. Watson was also a 2nd Century Fellow for Wisconsin Public Radio before rejoining WKU Public Radio. She has received numerous awards for her reporting.
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