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Beshear signs bill giving pair of Ky. state parks hit by natural disasters $13 million for repairs

Clay Cook
Kentucky State Parks

A bill signed by Gov. Andy Beshear Tuesday is allocating $13 million to make repairs at two Kentucky state parks impacted by natural disasters – one hit by the December 2021 tornado outbreak in western Kentucky and the other by historic flooding last July in eastern Kentucky.

House Bill 553 will see $5.5 million go to Jenny Wiley State Resort Park and $7.5 million to Lake Barkley State Resort Park to address structural, exterior, mechanical and interior deficiencies.

“These funds are critical to preserving two of our great state parks that are in need of significant repair,” Beshear said in a release Tuesday. “We must keep these parks open to help boost our state’s tourism industry and economy, as well as have them available, if needed, to provide critical emergency shelter for victims and first responders as they did during the December 2021 quad-state tornado impacting Western Kentucky and the July 2022 flooding impacting Eastern Kentucky.”

Department of Parks Commissioner Russ Meyer noted that these funds will support “critical improvements” at the parks.

“Both parks played important roles in helping Kentuckians in the wake of natural disasters and are greatly in need of repairs,” he said. “We look forward to implementing these appropriations, which will allow our parks to serve our guests and stand ready as future resources for the public as necessary.”

Additionally, two weeks before HB 553 was announced, Beshear signedHouse Joint Resolution 76, which designates $40 million toward campground upgrades, $20 million toward utility upgrades and $6 million toward broadband and Wi-Fi upgrades.

“Our parks attract travelers from across the country as well as locals and create a significant economic impact for Kentucky,” said Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet Secretary Lindy Casebier.

The General Assembly did not pass other bills that would have made significant improvements throughout Kentucky’s state parks. Proposals for $27 million in building systems improvements, $22 million in accommodation upgrades and $22 million in recreational amenity upgrades failed in the Legislature this year.

Zoe Lewis is a first-year sophomore at Murray State University from Benton, Kentucky. She is majoring in journalism with a minor in media production. She enjoys reading, going to movie theaters, spending time with her family and friends, and eating good food. Zoe is an Alpha Omicron Pi sorority member in the Delta Omega chapter. She is very excited to start working at WKMS and work while learning more about NPR, reporting, journalism, and broadcasting.
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