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McConnell: Paducah's Best Days Still Ahead
By Senator Mitch McConnell
PADUCAH - Paducah’s best days are still ahead - by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell

Out-of-state reporters have recently honed in on Paducah, writing articles highlighting the great progress of this city and throughout Western Kentucky.  While I’m delighted to see Paducah receive well-deserved national attention, I suspect these reporters don’t really understand this community, its remarkable history or its economic importance.

 Working for Paducah has been one of the highlights of my U.S. Senate service, and I’m proud of all that we’ve accomplished together. As the only one of the four congressional leaders not from New York or California, I see it as my responsibility to advance the priorities of middle America, and of course Kentucky. Paducah is a cultural and economic treasure in our Commonwealth, and I enjoy working with local leaders to help the city thrive.

During the Cold War, Paducah answered the call to bolster our national security efforts and became home to the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant. In return, our country must fulfill what U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry called our “moral obligation” to Paducah’s nuclear workers and this community. Throughout my Senate career, I’ve been proud to lead this fight. The nuclear workers’ compensation program I secured has delivered more than $800 million in benefits to PGDP workers. Because of the work’s health risks, I also secured funding for medical monitoring to help them receive life-saving treatment. Finally, I’ve prioritized the site’s cleanup with billions of dollars that support more than 1,000 workers.

Paducah has taken full advantage of its geography as the inland waterways capital of the world. The Riverfront showcases the area’s scenic beauty, and I enjoyed helping deliver the federal resources necessary to continue developing one of Paducah’s greatest attributes. With community leaders, I’ve also led efforts to boost commercial shipping, economic growth and good jobs in Western Kentucky.

When I heard your concerns regarding overlapping and duplicative regulations hindering barge operations, I led the push to untangle the web of rules related to the incidental discharge of ballast water. Last year, President Trump signed our bill to replace that mess with a single standard. The new framework should cut costs, promote efficiency, and help producers get their goods to market, all while protecting our natural waters.

Another critical feature of our waterways is the Olmsted Locks and Dam. Throughout the entire length of the project, I helped deliver federal resources to complete the largest civil works project in American history. Now, billions of dollars of American goods will pass through Olmsted every year, contributing to Kentucky’s more than 20,000 maritime jobs. I’ll continue working to complete another vital infrastructure project, the Kentucky Lock, in the coming years.

Paducah’s waterways create economic benefits, but they also bring the risk of floods. The city’s flood protection system is important safety infrastructure, especially at a time when many Kentucky communities are experiencing near-record levels of rainfall. When I heard that the system’s necessary repairs and upgrades hit a roadblock, I helped deliver more than $19 million to keep families and businesses throughout this community safe.

Kentucky fishers and boaters face threats from regulators and invasive species like Asian Carp. Hearing your concerns, I’ve sponsored the “Freedom to Fish” legislation to safeguard your access to treasured waters. I’ve also dedicated additional federal resources to support Lyon County Judge Wade White and Marshall County Judge Kevin Neal in the War on Carp and encouraged the Trump administration to deploy an aggressive strategy to protect Lake Barkley and Kentucky Lake.

 Last year, the FBI and the DEA agreed to my request to bolster the federal law enforcement presence in Paducah. Coordinating with talented local and state agencies, these new offices will make an enormous difference in protecting Western Kentuckians.

Competitive federal grants provide another way for me to help secure resources for Kentucky communities. Last year, I was proud to celebrate this area’s unique cultural heritage with a grant to build a park near the Paducah School of Art and Design. If you’re interested in applying to bring federal funds to benefit this wonderful community, I want to help. Please visit my website (mcconnell.senate.gov) or call (502) 582-6304.

 We’ve got quite a long list of accomplishments addressing Paducah’s important priorities. As long as I have the privilege to serve as the Senator for Kentucky, I’ll keep working with this community to deliver serious results and keep Paducah’s best days ahead.   

 Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, is the Senate Majority Leader. He serves as a senior member of the Appropriations, Agriculture and Rules Committees.

Published 01:30 PM, Tuesday Jul. 16, 2019
Updated 03:37 PM, Sunday Jul. 21, 2019

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