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County seeking funding for road paving

One of Decatur County’s most complained-about dirt roads may finally get paved if Decatur County Commissioners have their way.

At their Tuesday meeting, county commissioners unanimously voted to apply for a Community Development Block Grant, a federal program administered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
Funding from the block grants, commonly known as “CDBG,” can be used for a variety of project types, including rehabiltation of buildings, construction or reconstruction of public infrastructure and economic development, County Administrator Tom Patton said.

Typically, Decatur County has applied for CDBGs that are used in road paving projects, Patton said. Past examples in which CDBG funding was used include the paving of Slough Loop Road and paving of roads in the Dollar subdivision. While the specific project for the CDBG grant being applied for has not yet been formally set, Patton suggested that paving Carter’s Mill Road might be an appropriate project for a CDBG grant.

Carter’s Mill Road is an approximately 4-mile-long road that connects Dothan Road to John Rich Road in northwestern Decatur County. The road’s poor quality has been mentioned by several county officials, including former commissioner Gary Phillips and also by his successor, Commissioner Oliver Sellers.

“It’s a highly-travelled road,” Sellers said Tuesday night. “Not long after Public Works repairs it, vehicles beat the road back out into poor shape. Paving is the only answer.”

One of the requirements of approved CDBG projects is that at least 70 percent of grant funds must be used for activities that benefit persons of low-to-moderate income over a 1-3 year time period, according to HUD’s Web site, www.hud.gov

Patton said he believed the residents who live off Carter’s Mill Road would meet that criteria, as they have already been surveyed as part of an ongoing road improvement process. Public Works Superintendent Dennis Medley previously told commissioners that the county is trying to get the necessary easements from property owners who would be affected by paving the road.

Also on Tuesday night, commissioners agreed to hold a work session to set priorities for a proposed state program to fund road improvement on a regional basis using a special purpose sales tax. Georgia voters will get to vote on the proposal in the 2012 general election. The work session will be held Thursday, March 6 in the conference room of the County Administration Building.

Commissioners also heard from citizen Michelle Miller, who is organizing a public forum dealing with the issue of public safety and crime locally. The meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, March 1 at 6 p.m. in the secondary courtroom of the Decatur County Courthouse.