(Extensions of Remarks - June 11, 2009)

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[Extensions of Remarks]
[Page E1376]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []

                            EASTERN KENTUCKY


                           HON. HAROLD ROGERS

                              of kentucky

                    in the house of representatives

                        Thursday, June 11, 2009

  Mr. ROGERS of Kentucky. Madam Speaker, today I rise with my colleague 
and fellow Kentuckian, Congressman Ed Whitfield, to raise awareness 
about an important issue impacting a number of small businesses in our 
region of the country.
  Scenic Lake Cumberland has been the hub of economic development in 
our area of southern Kentucky for years. Some 4 million visitors stop 
by every year to take advantage of the lake's many attractions--world 
class bass fishing, relaxing atop a custom built houseboat, or boating 
with family and friends. These visitors pump over $70 million into our 
local economy, benefiting a wide array of businesses in the surrounding 
counties. However, with our nation's economy floundering and the 
Commonwealth's unemployment rate of nearly 10 percent hovering above 
the national average, the houseboat and marina industries surrounding 
Lake Cumberland are hemorrhaging--and so too are our people whose 
livelihoods rely on the lake as a lifeline.
  While the overall economy is part of the problem, business conditions 
at Lake Cumberland have suffered an even greater share in large part 
due to a long delayed and deferred federal rehabilitation and 
construction project at Wolf Creek Dam. An unfortunate consequence of 
construction at the dam has been the necessity to temporarily lower the 
pool of the lake from the traditional level of 720 feet to 680 feet. 
This significant drawdown has had a substantial adverse impact on the 
ten local concessionaries leasing marina space from the Corps of 
Engineers. Many marinas have had to incur tremendous expenses to 
accommodate the lower pool, such as relocation and investments in 
additional infrastructure, and these unanticipated expenses have 
significantly disrupted their cash flow. The legislation we've 
introduced today ensures that the federal government fulfills its 
obligation to those concessionaries with which it has entered into 
leasing agreements and provides some relief for these unforeseeable 
expenses that have the potential to set back the economy of an entire 
region. These measures include suspending burdensome rental payments 
until it is safe to restore the lake level, as well as reimbursing 
marina operators for expenses directly tied to this continued drawdown. 
Finally, the bill makes whole the surrounding communities that rely 
heavily on these rental payments.
  The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has been tasked and is hard at work 
with correcting structural issues with the dam to shore up the dam for 
future generations to enjoy, and Congress has diligently provided vital 
funds for the continuation of this project. I have no argument with 
this work or the funding. However, no relief has been made available to 
those who have tied their livelihoods to this lake and who, through no 
fault of their own, are enduring a government-induced hardship. The 
bill introduced today will correct this and provide some measure of 
relief to the hardworking small business owners scattered along 
beautiful Lake Cumberland.