Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Local News

June 16, 2013

Rebuilding West Liberty

Initiative seeks to be an example for other towns rocked by disaster

ASHLAND — Rebuilding West Liberty, an initiative aimed at reconstructing a town nearly destroyed last year by tornadoes, was part of the Clinton Global Initiative America’s annual meeting in Chicago last week.

Tim Conley, Morgan County judge-executive, told members of the CGI America Residential Energy Efficiency Working Group that affordable and energy efficient housing is a key to helping break the cycle of poverty.

“Even before the devastating tornado 15 months ago, many of our citizens could not afford to pay their utility bills. With this project we can demonstrate to all of rural America the extraordinary economic value of sustainability and energy efficiency,” Conley said.

 On March 2, 2012, West Liberty sustained tragedy on a massive scale. An EF3 tornado ripped through the community of 3,400, killing seven, destroying nearly 400 homes, businesses and government structures and much of the downtown.

While the disaster was an unprecedented crisis for the town, it also represented an extraordinary opportunity to rebuild itself with a modern, lower-cost, sustainable infrastructure and develop a path to create job-producing business opportunities, increasing the tax base and attracting new residents.

After a year of extensive discussions among key stakeholders and outside experts, the community completed a thorough visioning process to rebuild West Liberty in a thoughtful manner, giving careful consideration to the need to preserve the region’s Appalachian heritage and resources.

 In January, the town issued a strategic report called “Rebuilding West Liberty, Kentucky,” which outlined 13 locally inspired strategies that would make West Liberty not only a model for disaster-ravaged communities, but also for all of rural America.

Conley provided insight on one of the report’s most urgent stakeholder-inspired strategies and most critical needs: rebuilding roughly half of the 300 residential homes lost to the storm. The three-year project includes a $27 million investment of equity, grants, debt and operating grants. Next Step Network will scale innovations piloted for other disaster response efforts and affordable housing projects for factory-built homes across the nation.

The partners on the “Commitment to Action” include Frontier Housing, Next Step Network, NeighborWorks America, the Ford Foundation, Grassroots Financing LLC, Midwest Clean Energy Enterprise LLC, the Regional Technology and Innovation Center, the Morehead State University Innovation & Commercialization Center and the University of Kentucky Center for Applied Energy Research.

 Those who want to join the coalition may sign up at http://therecoveringpolitician.com/westliberty.

Text Only
Local News
  • Families invited for Fun in the Park

     Free cotton candy, hot dogs and entertainment for an entire day is what Bridges Christian Church in Russell is offering local families during Fun in the Park this weekend.

    August 1, 2014

  • AEP reports stolen copper, fence damage

     All that glitters is not gold — sometimes, it's also copper.

    August 1, 2014

  • Probe of Fairview begins

    Four investigators from the state Office of Education Accountability spent much of Thursday interviewing school officials in a probe of alleged school law violations in the Fairview Independent School District.

    July 31, 2014

  • Grant helps Elliott County High School with $1.7 million geothermal renovation

    Elliott County School District Superintendent Dr. Carl Potter II remembers the night a few years ago when the lights went out in the middle of an Elliott County boys basketball game and interrupted it for some 20 minutes while the lights powered up.

    July 31, 2014

  • Heroin overdose deaths continue to rise

    The Kentucky state legislature passed a sweeping overhaul to its prescription drug law in the summer of 2012 after a flood of overdose deaths, making it significantly harder for people to access dangerous addictive drugs from doctors.

    July 31, 2014

  • Morehead man faces drug charges

    A Morehead man is facing multiple drug charges after taking possession of a suspicious package mailed to his home on Dillon Lane, according to the Kentucky State Police.

    July 31, 2014

  • Highlands’ Artists Market to begin today

    Up-and-coming artists are being offered a rare chance to show and sell their work during the First Friday art walk.

    July 31, 2014

  • Dogonline.jpg 'Educate and entertain'

    A local theater group is shooting for changing the area’s theater scene.

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • 07/31/2014 — What's Happening

    Local news

    July 31, 2014

  • News in brief, 07/31/14

    About 450 marijuana plants were confiscated during an eradication effort in Lawrence County on Tuesday.

    July 30, 2014