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$3.9 Million grant will be used for renovation of Historic Stearns

By Eugenia Jones

Thanks to a $3.9 Economic Development Administration (EDA) grant, the McCreary County Heritage Foundation (MCHF) is preparing to make its first big investment in the restoration of downtown Stearns.  Although the grant requires a $600,000 match from the Foundation, MCHF Chairperson Ray Moncrief vows the Foundation will find a way to meet the match requirement.  Moncrief noted the Foundation has tentatively identified sources of funding for about half of the required amount.

“This is a big day for McCreary County,” Moncrief declared during Monday’s (8-8-22) regular meeting of the MCHF.  “This is a McCreary County project and not a Stearns project.  We are humbled by this opportunity to rebuild downtown Stearns for the benefit of McCreary County.  This is the beginning of long planned economic and tourism revitalization.”

Moncrief noted the current grant funds Phase 2 of the Historic Stearns Downtown Revitalization Project.  Phase 1 consisted of necessary updates to the scenic railway and passenger train that are now basically complete.  As the Foundation moves into Phase 2, leaders will focus on “redressing” Downtown Stearns.  First, funds from the grant will be used to totally renovate the original Administrative Building (now known as the McCreary County Museum).  Since the building is on the National Historical Register, the building will be renovated to historical accuracy.  According to Moncrief, the first floor will be renovated to accommodate museum displays and a welcome center area.  The second floor will house professional offices and a large conference room.  The third floor will consist of rbnb vacation type rental rooms.

“Once completed, the Administrative Building will be a bona fide showplace,” Moncrief predicted.

After renovating the Administrative Building, contractors will turn their attention to renovation of Stores 1 and 3 on Henderson Street.

Phase 2 of the Downtown Stearns Revitalization Project has been deemed a 445 day project meaning that, if all goes well, the design process will begin in September and the project will be completed by the end of 2023.

“If and when all of our plans are realized,” Moncrief said enthusiastically.  “We are poised to be the southern portal to the Kentucky Wildlands.”

The EDA grant was secured by the MCHF with the Lake Cumberland Area Development District, Inc. (LCADD) in charge of tracking the grant.  Moncrief noted the Foundation has a great working relationship with the LCADD.

Moncrief expressed his appreciation to several people who were instrumental to the Foundation receiving the grant, including:  Benny Garland, Waylon Wright (ADD), Bertha Parton (EDA), Phil Paradice (EDA), all of the Board Members of the MCHF, JC Egnew, McCreary County Judge Executive Jimmie “Bevo” Greene and Deputy Judge Nathan Nevels, McCreary County Fiscal Court (magistrates), McCreary County Attorney Austin Price, Tara Hackney (MSE), and Glenn Ross (MSE).

Photo by Eugenia Jones

The McCreary County Heritage Foundation has been awarded a $3.9 million EDA grant to renovate downtown Stearns.  The funds will be used to renovate the Administrative Building (McCreary County Museum) and Stores 1 and 3 on Henderson Street.

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