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Coastal communities get state block grants
Riceboro received $380,159 for sewer improvements
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Four coastal Georgia communities recently were awarded community-development grants from the state totaling nearly $1.9 million.

According to an Aug. 19 news release from Gov. Nathan Deal’s office, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development awarded $39.7 million for Georgia’s Community Development Block Grant that was awarded to 82 rural Georgia communities through the Georgia Department of Community Affairs.

The release said the funds are intended to assist rural communities with infrastructure improvements, neighborhood revitalization and centers that serve the state’s “neediest citizens.”

The release said Riceboro received $380,159 for sewer improvements. Ludowici and Glennville received $500,000 each for sewer improvements, and Jesup received $498,207 for a Boys and Girls Club. Wayne County received an additional $500,000 for the DCA’s Employment Incentive Program.

According to the news release, communities that receive the grants are required to complete their particular project within two years of receiving the award. Alison Tyrer, marketing and communications director for DCA, said DCA has a team of regional representatives who work with communities on their DCBG-funded projects, “monitoring the process and providing guidance and technical assistance.”

Tyrer said communities are reimbursed for work on their projects in what she described as a “draw-down” process. Communities complete their project in stages and submit requests for reimbursement, she said.

“Since the communities have two years to complete the project … the representatives work with both the present and previous year’s (grant) recipients. They check over the requests for reimbursement before they are submitted for approval. And, of course, to remain in compliance, this funding may not be used for any other project than that for which it is allocated.”

Although she didn’t have access to their applications when she talked with the Courier, Tyrer said the specific amounts awarded to Riceboro and Jesup probably represent the exact amount they requested for their project. The higher, rounded amounts awarded to Ludowici and Glennville possibly indicate they requested more, but those are the amounts they were approved for, she said.

“Community development block grants are awarded to communities in a very competitive process,” Tyrer said. “We probably get twice as many applications as those approved for funding. When communities submit their applications, they must include very detailed plans for how they would apply the monies received … including detailed estimates for costs for engineering and environmental (impact).”

She said the applications can take nine months or longer to complete and that CDBG funding also includes matching requirements. The grants do not pay for the entire project. Communities have to put some of their own funds toward the project for which they’re applying, she added.

Tyrer said a two-day workshop at the Hyatt in Savannah is being conducted this week for local administrators of CDBG recipients. She said on Friday, a delegation from each community will receive a symbolic “big check” that represents the grant money that community will receive for their project.

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