I know many of you will first be interested to know how the budget might affect us right here at home. The following is a list of some budget items that have specific advantages for our region:
· The Western School of Medicine at MAHEC will receive $15.5 million to help fill the shortfall of doctors and surgeons for our region.
· The Asheville Regional Airport, now the 4th largest in NC will receive $4.5 million to help fund the growing demand for its infrastructure needs.
· $200,000 to help protect our Hemlocks and continue the fight against the woolly adelgid.
· Mission Hospital will receive a $4 million grant for additional mental health beds
· Hendersonville was awarded $100,000 to continue work on improving its downtown public facilities.
· The Transylvania County Economic Alliance will receive $200,000 to add a 10,000 sq. ft. expansion to its Ecusta Road Economic Development Project.
· A $375,000 fund will be administered the NC Dept. of Commerce to promote outdoor recreation in NC. I believe with that program our region has more to gain than most communities in the state.
· Pisgah Legal Services will receive $100,000 to aid in assistance for military veterans.
· Our local judicial districts continue to experience growing pressure. To enable them to address their growing concerns Court District 42 (Henderson, Transylvania, Polk) will receiving funding for one additional Assistant District Attorney. Henderson County will receive funding for three additional Deputy Clerks of Court. Additional position allocations for FY 2018-19 will be determined by the Clerks’ Conference in September this year.
· A NC Forest Service Joint Use Training Center with the NC National Guard at DuPont State Park will receive $100,000 towards the development of a Forest Training Center.
· Muddy Sneakers, an educational program operating in Henderson County to utilize outdoor classrooms to teach science and math received a $500,000 grant to support its program courses to 5th graders.
· The Western Carolina University steam plant was built in 1960 and the need to get it replaced is growing. It will receive $750,000 towards the nearly $30 million that will be needed for that replacement.
· $2.3 million will be spent on firefighting aircraft, a necessity of which WNC was recently painfully reminded.