Pre-construction work has started on the long-awaited Aquaponics project which will be located at Kermit.Leasha Johnson, executive director for the Mingo County Redevelopment Authority, made that announcement at the authority's regular meeting on Thursday afternoon.The MCRA recently awarded Persinger and Associates of Charleston, West Virginia, the bid for the design and construction of the Aquaponics project for $1,728,000.The project will be located on the old Burning Creek Mine property inside the Kermit city limits.Courtney Persinger, a Williamson native, operates the Charleston company which specializes in commercial construction and renovation.Sprouting Farms, which is headquartered in Talcott, West Virginia, has reached an agreement with the MCRA to manage the facility.The multi-million-dollar project is to be developed on abandoned mine land in northern Mingo County. When completed it is initially projected to employ about 12 people. The project was originally announced in 2016. It is part of the Abandoned Mine Lands (AML) Pilot Program and the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection.When operational, the 20,000-square-feet Aquaponics facility and training center is intended to provide 150 kilowatts of solar power, provide healthy and fresh food for local and regional consumers, and represent a model that can be implemented in other coalfield communities, Johnson said.Johnson also announced that bids for the $2.3 million water project for the Air Transportation Park near Delbarton came in $430,000 short. She said the Mingo County Commission pledged to give $430,000 of economic development money in its budget to help finish the project and the MCRA will pay the remaining $100,000.A ground-breaking ceremony is being planned for the middle of May for the project.At the start of the MCRA meeting, authority members elected officers from the board of directors. Local attorney Paul Pinson will serve as the new chairman, while Dr. Donavan "Dino" Beckett will serve as vice chairman. Longtime board member James Simpkins will serve as secretary and treasurer.The MCRA also swore in new board member Paula Blankenship, who is a local accountant. Brandon Sammons was sworn in to serve on the board in January.