Reconnecting McDowell receives $1 Million grant

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WELCH, WV (WVNS) — The Renaissance Village apartment building in McDowell County is receiving a huge grant from the state. Gov. Jim Justice (R-WV) announced on Thursday, May 28, 2020 he is assigning $1 Million to the project from the Abandoned Mine Land Grants program.

Reconnecting McDowell is finishing up the construction of Renaissance Village, which will provide modern rental apartments for teachers and others in McDowell County. The building is expected to open by the start of the fall 2020 school year.

“This is a make-or-break moment for investment in public education in America, as communities, families, states, and public schools and services around the country reel from the economic and public health devastation of the COVID-19 pandemic. With this grant, Gov. Justice has offered just-in-time financing to make Renaissance Village—the first multiple-floor construction in McDowell in decades—a reality. It’s an important show of support for the educators and families of McDowell,” said Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, which spearheaded the Reconnecting McDowell public-private partnership.

Funding for Abandoned Mine Land Grants comes from fees paid by coal mine operators on each ton of coal mined. Reconnecting McDowell applied for the grant three years ago because part of the property is located on an abandoned mine.

“McDowell County was once one of the state’s largest coal producers,” said Cecil Roberts, president of the United Mine Workers of America. “Sadly, the industry collapsed over the past several decades, and communities and families have suffered a terrible toll. It’s good to know that something good is coming out of this sad history. Coal miners of West Virginia are proud of our past and proud of what we are doing to help revive the county.”

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