Leaders need to know ARC funding is vital

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Tribune editorial board

Appalachia. The word conjures up warm memories of home for folks who live here. It conjures up a stereotypical label for many outsiders.

Regardless of one's immediate reaction on hearing the word, one thing is certain: Appalachia is like no other place in the world. Thirteen states share at least a portion of the official boundaries of Appalachia.

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The place and its people share unique qualities and challenges. Traditionally the level of poverty and economic troubles in the region outpace the same problems in other areas of our country. In the 1960s, as the hippie generation struggled to find solutions for all kinds of social problems, the work of two U.S. presidents, John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson, helped urge Congress into action. Something needed to be done to right the inequities inherent in the region.

With that single purpose in mind, the Appalachian Regional Commission was formed in the mid-1960s.

Since that time, the ARC has worked to eliminate the stereotypes by serving as a catalyst for change in the region.

Here in Ohio, 29 counties are listed as being Appalachian, including Lawrence County. Each year Ohio receives approximately $4.4 million in ARC funding. The state of Ohio is a rare state in that it provides a match to supplement the ARC funds.

In Lawrence County, ARC funds have been used for a myriad of projects through the years. The most recent ARC-funded projects include work at The Point industrial park in South Point and a new wastewater treatment facility in Coal Grove.

As the federal budget becomes tighter and tighter, the pressure on Congress to cut ARC funding is great. Such cuts could be detrimental to the area's growth and to the future of Appalachia. Last week the county commissioners adopted a resolution to urge our congressmen to fully support ARC funding efforts. We applaud their effort and encourage all residents to contact their congressmen to let them know how important the funding is to our region.