Kentucky Steam Heritage has received a $100,000 grant, thanks to The Team Kentucky Non-Profit Assistance fund. The funds will specifically to be used to further the completion of track work on the Estill County railroad shop complex.
The award comes as work continues on the blossoming “The Yard” project, a railroad-based tourist attraction that harnesses the region’s rich rail history to all things Appalachian Kentucky, notably a 4500-person capacity music venue sponsored by the Hardy family of Irvine. Ground broke on the venue this summer.
Completion of the track will provide increased operational flexibility and rail storage space for the 501(c)(3)’s growing collection of regionally-relevant historic rail equipment. It will also allow track to be run to and over the inspection pit, which will be crucial for the restoration and maintenance of operating equipment such as the group’s hallmark rebuild project, the 80-year-old steam locomotive C&O 2716.
The Team Kentucky Non-Profit Assistance fund is a $75 million dollar fund that was announced as a part of Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear’s solution to help non-profits within the state recover from the financial hardship of the COVID-19 pandemic. The fund has provided one-time direct relief payments of up to $100,000 per eligible non-profit to help negate the negative impact that the pandemic has had on fundraising.
Chris Campbell, Kentucky Steam president, says the award is key to furthering the organization’s mission to positively impact the region through economic development.
“This announcement is well-timed and much appreciated, as we move into what we hope is a post-covid growth for our project. It’s no secret that the pandemic stymied our initiative, which was gaining momentum in late 2019. Investments such as this show the State’s commitment to making Appalachian Kentucky growth a priority. We are humbled to be a part of that growth.”
The award is the first win for the newly formed development committee, piloted by KSHC’s newest board members Joseph Darby and James Tully.
Darby, a General Motors Mechanical Project Engineer with the Research and Development Team, works with some of the world’s most renowned researchers on propulsion, manufacturing, telecommunications, and system integration on cutting-edge technology. He received a B.S in Mechanical Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology and has been involved in rail preservation projects his whole life.
Tully, the Senior Director of SoF Business Development at ARMA Global-GDIT in Tampa, FL, has been recognized in several publications as an innovative leader and successful entrepreneur including features in the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post and Inc. Magazine. He served on active duty in the US Army as a member of the 75th Ranger Regiment, Training & Doctrine Command, and the 7th Infantry Division (Light). Tully’s family has deep roots in Appalachian Kentucky, and he has been a lifelong rail enthusiast.
“We are thrilled to be adding to our ranks with motivated and qualified individuals like Joe and Jim,” said Campbell. “This award is a major step forward for us and proves that we are bringing on the right people to help move us in the right direction.”
Kentucky Steam continues to solicit end-of-year donations that can either be dedicated to the restoration of C&O 2716 or contributed to the general fund. Several large announcements are coming soon that will help further the mission to restore this facility and drive economic growth in eastern Kentucky. Tax-deductible donations can be made via PayPal or by clicking here: https://www.kentuckysteam.org/donate/