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Stimulus money coming, more hoped for
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Bryan County is on the state’s federal stimulus list for two road resurfacing projects.

Local officials are hoping this is the first of several submitted proposals to be approved as part of the federal government’s stimulus package.

On May 5, Gov. Sonny Perdue submitted the required "1511 Certification" on 51 road projects around the state that will be funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Among these projects are the resurfacing of the four and a half mile stretch of Hwy. 17 from the Liberty County line to Richmond Hill -- the road that links Hinesville and Fort Stewart to Richmond Hill and Savannah. The other is the resurfacing of the five mile stretch of Hwy. 280 from the Evans County line to Pembroke.

"These (51) projects touch nearly every corner of our state and include some needed bridge repairs, resurfacing projects and another critical piece of the Fall Line Freeway," Perdue said.

County administrator Phil Jones said the governor’s actions do not automatically generate the funding for the two Bryan projects, but it brings them closer to reality. Jones said the county appreciates the recognition of the road projects, but the priorities identified by the state and those identified by Bryan County officials differ.

Jones said the paving of the Harris Trail Road extension and the creation of the Belfast Keller interchange show a greater need, "but we certainly appreciate any help the state can give us."

Meanwhile, the Richmond Hill Police Department is in the running to receive $18,000 in federal stimulus dollars.

Chief Billy Reynolds said if granted, the funds will go toward enhancing the training programs at the department, including additional training tools and equipment for the Special Operations Response Team (SORT) and narcotics enforcement. Eligibility is based on data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation Uniform Crime Reporting data and the U.S. Census Bureau.

"It’s great to have a chance to receive these funds," Reynolds said. "Our budget was slimmed down this year due to the economy, so this could be a valuable supplement."

Officials throughout the county have submitted additional projects to the state in hopes that it may be considered for stimulus funding.

Richmond Hill city manager Mike Melton said the city has submitted many projects for consideration of stimulus funding. Among them are a new lower floridan well, expansion and improvement of the wastewater treatment plant, funds for the amphitheater and city center, and the creation of stormwater ditches along Live Oak and White Oak subdivisions.

In Pembroke, city clerk Betty Hill said the city has submitted a $4 million plan to extend water and sewer service to the areas of Pembroke that the current system does not reach.

Hill said the city is also requesting funding for another phase of the T-grant project, meant to enhance the city via sidewalks, streetlights and other improvements.

"We’re hopeful to get some response, and we’ve put our name in the pot," Hill said. "Historically, though, it’s the bigger cities that get funding first."

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