North Carolina Gov. Mike Easley announced that the Western Office of the N.C. Redevelopment Center in the Asheville Office Park will open on Monday, Jan. 24 at 8 a.m. The new office will assist local government officials in identifying resources for citizens in storm-ravaged counties who need state assistance.
“I want local government officials who are dealing with storm victims to have access to the information and resources they need to fully recover,” Easley said. “This office will help accomplish that goal while ensuring that I have up-to-date information on the Western recovery efforts.”
The Western Office of the N.C. Redevelopment Center will assist local governments in implementing flood recovery programs by briefing local elected officials and administrators about state and federal programs available for assistance, maintaining regular contact with local governments regarding the recovery efforts, and mediating appeals from victims who disagree with local government rulings on their applications.
In November, Easley appointed David Kelly, a former secretary of the Dept. of Crime Control and Public Safety, to coordinate the recovery efforts. From 2001 to 2004, Kelly oversaw the N.C. Redevelopment Center operations that were established in Eastern North Carolina following Hurricane Floyd in 1999.
In addition to Kelly, Jewell Wilson and Theresa Colletta will be working on recovery efforts in the western office. Wilson is an Asheville native who spent four years working in Sen. John Edwards’ western North Carolina office, and nearly four years in the western governor’s office. Wilson will be meeting with county officials to discuss recovery efforts.
Coletta was the regional library director for Avery, Mitchell and Yancey counties from 1969 to 2004. She is an administrative assistant.
The office is located at 31 College Place, Suite 109-A, Asheville. The phone number is (828) 250-3822.
The opening of the Western Redevelopment Office comes on the heels of Easley’s Dec. 7 allocation of more than $90 million in state funds to leverage more than $170 million in federal funding to begin the recovery efforts.
Part of the money is being used to repair or replace about 250 privately owned bridges, provide funding for housing and other personal assistance for individuals and businesses that did not qualify for Small Business Administration loans, to purchase flooded homes, relocate residents, and for floodplain mapping.
In October, Easley established a 41-member task force of diverse local representatives to identify unmet needs so the people of western North Carolina might get the assistance they needed. Their report was received recently by the Governor’s Office and is currently under review.
To date, Easley has distributed $1 million from the state’s disaster relief fund to 15 western counties and provided $500,000 in funds to promote western North Carolina through the fall tourist leaf season.
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