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News: $7 million in pork or progress?

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Congressman André Carson announced today that he has secured nearly $7 million dollars in federal funding for several Indianapolis projects in the Fiscal Year 2009 appropriations omnibus package:

"I am pleased to announce that yesterday the House passed legislation that will provide crucial funding to a number of vital projects across Indianapolis. These projects, which range from transportation renovation to educational program expansion, will provide jobs to numerous Hoosiers and long overdue improvements to our neighborhoods."

While the debate rages over the staggering size of President Obama's new budget proposal, opinions are sure to be divided on the merits of spending federal tax dollars on each and every project. What some will call progress, others are certain to call pork.

Here's the list, you decide:

LABOR/HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES

$190,000 — The Mind Trust Education Entrepreneur Fellowship

Congressman André Carson has secured $190,000 in federal funding for the Indianapolis Center for Education Entrepreneurship Inc., known as The Mind Trust. This funding will ensure that The Mind Trust can continue to improve public education for underserved students through scholastic outreach. The Education Entrepreneur Fellowship program will provide ambitious entrepreneurs with an opportunity to develop fresh ideas and launch initiatives that will improve student learning, boost high school graduation rates, and expand post-graduation opportunities for aspiring young professionals.

"The Mind Trust and its Venture Fund has a proven track record of educating Indianapolis residents and preparing them for a more successful future," Congressman Carson said. "These funds will allow The Mind Trust to continue its efforts to bring the most innovative educational practices into the Indianapolis Public Schools and public schools throughout our community."

$438,000 — Jewish Community Relations Council for IndyNORC

The Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Indianapolis secured $438,000 to continue providing supportive services to the Indianapolis based Naturally Occurring Retirement Community (IndyNORC). "Naturally Occurring Retirement Community" is a demographic term to describe neighborhoods or buildings in which a large segment of the residents are 65 years of age and older.

"This funding will allow for a more cost-effective delivery of health and supportive services, increase service availability, and improve neighborhoods for the benefit of elderly Hoosiers," Congressman Carson said. "I am pleased that the elderly population of IndyNORC will continue to receive the needed services and support to maintain their independence, dignity, and quality of life."

$381,000 — Riley Children's Cancer Center Expansion

The $381,000 secured for Clarian Health will be used to expand Riley Children's Cancer Center. Riley is one of the nation's best pediatric oncology facilities and treats patients from across Indiana and neighboring states. On any given day, the Cancer Center is at or near capacity. "Indianapolis is so fortunate to have a children's hospital of this caliber in our backyard," said Carson. "It is every parent's worst nightmare to have their child diagnosed with cancer, but in that dark hour, knowing that you have access to the best possible care can make all the difference."

$143,000 — Raphael Health Center

The $143,000 obtained for the Raphael Health Center will be used to purchase and operate a health information technology system. Raphael Health Center is a community based health center that provides medical and dental care for children and adults in Indianapolis, regardless of their ability to pay. "This funding will allow Raphael Health Center to reduce costs while improving the quality of care they provide," Carson said. "In these tough economic times, a growing number of families are finding that they are unable to cover the rising costs of health care. By offering compassionate, first rate medical assistance to those most in need, community health centers like Raphael provide an invaluable service to our community."

ENERGY AND WATER

$2,536,000 — City of Indianapolis for Indy North Flood Control

The City of Indianapolis was awarded $2,536,000 to complete the Indianapolis North Flood Control Damage Reduction Project. "Last year, thousands of Hoosiers across Indiana personally experienced the devastating impact a flood can have," said Carson. "When I was elected to represent Indiana's Seventh Congressional District, it was with the understanding that I would do everything in my power to protect Indianapolis from floods, tornados, and other natural disasters. This floodwall follows through on that promise by offering reliable protection to residents of our city for generations to come."

The Indianapolis North Flood Control Damage Reduction Project is an ongoing project that commenced in 2001. When complete, it will remove 2,400 homes from encroaching floodplains and will significantly reduce the probability of flood-related damage to thousands of homes and businesses in the Indianapolis area.

COMMERCE JUSTICE AND SCIENCE

$500,000 — City of Indianapolis for IMPD Technology

Congressman Carson helped the City of Indianapolis to secure $500,000 that will be used to install laptops and broadband technology in the cars of Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department officers.

"Reducing crime in the City of Indianapolis is one of my top priorities," said Congressman Carson. "This new technology will allow police officers to spend more time out on patrol keeping our communities safe and secure. As a former law enforcement officer, I have seen first-hand how an accessible and visible police presence is essential in the fight to prevent crime."

$100,000 — City of Beech Grove for BGPD Technology

Congressman Carson also helped the City of Beech Grove to secure $100,000 that will be used to outfit police cruisers with cameras and integrated wireless technology. "As a former police officer, I understand how vitally important it is for police officers patrolling our communities to maintain open and reciprocal lines of communication with their central command units. With this technology, Beech Grove officers will be able to more effectively communicate with each other and with their local command center, making Beech Grove a much safer place to live and work."

$300,000 — City of Indianapolis for Liberty Hall II

The $300,000 secured for Liberty Hall II will allow the City of Indianapolis to expand a female prisoner re-entry program (Liberty Hall) and continue planning and constructing a facility for a male prisoner re-entry program (Liberty Hall II). Additionally, Liberty Hall II will add an intensive employment preparation curriculum to its programs that help ex-offenders find stable work upon release.

"Without successful re-entry programs, ex-offenders too often return to a life of crime," Congressman Carson said. "Liberty Hall II will build on the successes of the original Liberty Hall by minimizing recidivism and further reducing crime across our city."

$100,000 — Boner Center After School Programs

This $100,000 secured for the John H. Bonner Community Center will be devoted to restarting their successful 21st Century After-School and Summer Program. This program provides at-risk students with regular and dependable access to a safe environment in which they can develop strong inter-personal skills while improving their academic proficiencies.

"The 21st Century After-School and Summer Program fills a critical void among Indianapolis summer youth enrichment programs," Carson said. "By making quality after school and summer programs available to our at-risk youth, we are combating school drop-out rates and giving low-income children the resources they need to succeed."

FINANCIAL SERVICES

$196,514 — Boner Center Job and Home Ownership Programs

This $196,514 secured for the Boner Center will be used to provide job-training and workforce development services as well as small business mentorship programs to low-income families who are already enrolled in the Center's homeownership program.

"These funds will help ensure that needy families have the opportunity to achieve economic self-sufficiency and stability by providing them with accessible financial and business training opportunities," Congressman Carson said. "I am proud to support this project and will continue to support similar worthy programs that invest in our community's most important asset — our residents."

TRANSPORTATION/HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT

$475,000 — City of Indianapolis for Downtown Transportation Improvements

The $475,000 secured for the City of Indianapolis will be used to repair and replace brick streets and sidewalks in the downtown area. These rehabilitation projects will create numerous jobs and all Indianapolis residents will benefit from safer and more secure roads and sidewalks. "Work, shopping, sporting events and sightseeing draw thousands of Hoosiers to our downtown streets and sidewalks everyday." said Carson. "Because of all the people who live, work and visit downtown, we have a thriving city center. These funds will ensure that our downtown remains save, accessible and attractive — the type of downtown that will continue to attract visitors for years to come."

$475,000 — Ivy Tech for a Multi Modal Facility

The $475, 000 allocated to Ivy Tech's Indianapolis campus will be used for the construction of a multi-modal facility that will become part of an overall planned renovation. "Ivy Tech is one of our city's most valued institutions, providing a valuable education to thousands of promising students every year," Carson said. "This multi-modal facility will drastically increase access to the Indianapolis campus, providing an opportunity for thousands of low- and moderate-income Hoosiers to receive higher education training."

$712,500 — IndyGo Fleet Expansions

The $712,500 that Congressman Carson helped to secure for the Indianapolis Public Transportation Corporation, or IndyGo, will be used to purchase fixed-route buses. The expansion of the IndyGo Fleet will mean more frequency of service and reach into underserved areas of the community. Additionally, the availability of more buses will result in more jobs for professional coach operators and maintenance staff. "For those people who rely on public transportation to get around the city, this expansion means you will have more options and flexibility with your travel plans," Congressman Carson said. "And as we increase the accessibility of public transportation, more people will choose it as an option. That will ultimately mean fewer cars on the road and less pollution in the air — it is a win-win situation for everyone"

$237,500 — City of Beech Grove for Community Center Addition

The City of Beech Grove was awarded $237,500 to be used for the construction of a youth center addition at the Hornet Park Community Center.

"As a former law enforcement officer, I know how important it is for young people to have access to a safe location after school and on the weekends," Congressman Carson said. "Too many children in Marion County encounter guns, drugs and gang activity everyday and desperately need a positive environment. This center will help keep kids off the streets and out of trouble by providing a constructive, secure place that they can spend their free time."

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