By GINA KINSLOW
Glasgow Daily Times
Gov. Steve Beshear made several stops Wednesday while visiting southcentral Kentucky, one of which was in Glasgow for a check presentation regarding the creation of a methane gas recovery system at the Glasgow Regional Landfill.
The city of Glasgow received a $100,000 grant through the Kentucky Energy Efficiency and Conservation for Local Governments program to help fund the $1.3 million project that will involve capturing the methane gas at the landfill and turning it into electricity.
Beshear presented a check for the grant to Mayor Rhonda Riherd Trautman and members of the city council during a ceremony at the landfill.
“When a lot of us look at a landfill, we just see trash. Other people see opportunity and that’s what your leadership here in the mayor, the city council and others have seen here — opportunity,” Beshear said.
East Kentucky Power will buy the methane and turn it into electricity, making it available for private and public consumption, as well as a back-up power source for the city’s water treatment plant, he said.
“I am very proud that we are partners in this,” Beshear said.
In addition to the energy grant, the project will also be funded by a $212,000 contribution from the city of Glasgow and a $1 million no-interest loan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Economic Development Loan and Grant Program.
Trautman credited Bill Prather with Farmer’s Rural Electric Cooperative for coming up with the idea for the methane gas recovery system.
“When I first came into office in 2011, one of the first calls I got was from Bill Prather with Farmer’s Rural Electric,” she said.
The mayor met with Prather and from there they began to plan the project.
“We visited other facilities and after all this time we are getting to the point to where we are ready to proceed,” Trautman said. “I believe that after all this time, three years of planning and coordination, this project is going to be a showcase and we will have people visiting us from not only across the state, but across the country to see what we are doing here.”
She continued that the project would not have gotten off the ground had it not been for teamwork and gave credit to Kurt Frey with the city’s department of public works; Alvey Morgan with the Glasgow Regional Landfill; the city council, past and present, and the council’s infrastructure committee, as well as various other city employees.
Prather thanked the mayor and the city council for working so diligently on the project.
“We are going to end up with a project that will improve the environment here in our community and will produce clean energy and power for possibly 500 homes from the power plant we will eventually build here,” he said.
Tony Campbell, CEO for East Kentucky Power Cooperative, was also on hand for the event and said, “If it wasn’t for Bill Prather and the board of directors … East Kentucky would not have been able to be involved in this project.”
He called the project “a win, win” for everyone.
“It’s a win for the community in that we will be able to eliminate some of the odors. It is a win for the electric cooperative in that it will produce some electricity, and it’s a win for the environment because methane is four times more cleaner than CO2 after it is burned,” he said.
After leaving Glasgow, Beshear traveled on to Metcalfe County for a groundbreaking for the new Louie B. Nunn / Cumberland Parkway interchange.
“This is an exciting time to be in Edmonton and Metcalfe County, because we’ve been talking and working to try to make this happen for quite a while now,” he said.
The governor pointed out that roads connect communities, whether it be for work, to buy groceries or to go to the hospital.
“They are really such a big part of our entire quality of life,” he said. “If you don’t have good roads and you don’t have good access, you sure know it. Particularly, when you visit places that do have it.”
The interchange is a $9.68 million project that will ease congestion around the public square in downtown Edmonton and open the door for economic opportunities not just for Metcalfe County, but other surrounding communities, he said.
Construction of the interchange will also include a new bridge on U.S. 68 over the parkway and the reconstruction of sections of Harvey Hurt and Industrial Park roads and Ky. 1243.
Among those who stand to benefit from the project is Keith Beckham, deputy division manager for Sumitomo in Edmonton.
Beckham lives in Smiths Grove and commutes to Edmonton daily.
“For me personally, it will cut some time and miles each day, but for our employees at Sumitomo it’s really going to help them as well,” he said, adding it will mean shorter commutes to work and more free time.
As for the company itself, several trucks travel to and from the plant each day, turning onto U.S. 68/Ky. 80 at the public square in downtown Edmonton to get to the parkway.
“And basically, it shuts down traffic when they do that,” he said. “It will be a great benefit for the community and for our business.”
Initial work on the project began in 2002, when James Comer, state agriculture commissioner, was serving as a state representative.
“The 2002 session was a budget session and it was always in the six-year road plan, but that was when we started trying to get money for it,” he said.
Comer and other members of the Kentucky General Assembly at that time, including former Sen. Richie Sanders and former Sen. David Williams, set aside money in the state’s budget for the acquisition of rights-of-way for the interchange.
“Sen. David Givens has worked very hard to get money for the construction part,” Comer said. “It’s really moved forward with Sen. Givens and the Beshear administration.”
Greg Meredith, chief district engineer for the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet’s District 3, said the project was promised about 25 years ago.
It was eventually identified in a 2007 planning study and added to the highway plan in 2009.
The state has spent $1.1 million on design of the interchange and another $1 million to acquire properties. Twenty properties were purchased for the project and a couple of residences were relocated, he said.
Utility relocation was taking place Wednesday.
The interchange was referred by Givens as being a “a cornerstone project” because of the corridor that is being developed along U.S. 68.
“This is going to provide access to the employees and the businesses here in the industrial park. At the same time, it’s going to provide some great access for citizens in southern Green County and northern Metcalfe County to be able to go west and south to get to I-65,” he said.
Rep. Bart Rowland pointed out the interchange will also improve response time to that particular section of the county for first responders, such as firefighters and police officers, when there are emergency situations.
“If we get to do all the other things we’ve got in the road plan, like the bypass around Edmonton and the rest of Ky. 163 south and tie it into the one we’ve done in Monroe County over the last six years, this is just the first part of making this corridor here that will hopefully extend to the Tennessee line,” he said, adding there has been discussion about the corridor between Interstate 40 and Interstate 75 and said the new parkway interchange “is just another major piece of that entire project.”
Both Metcalfe County Judge-Executive Greg Wilson and Edmonton Mayor Howard Garrett said they were glad to see construction of the interchange underway.
“This project is an absolute necessity and we have pushed hard to try to get this done. We are so proud of it,” Wilson said.
The project is anticipated being complete by December.
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