Local leaders are reacting after Toccoa and Stephens County receive a federal grant for sewer expansion.
Wednesday afternoon, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker announced that the Commerce Department’s Economic Development Administration will give $1.42 million to Toccoa and Stephens County for water and sewer system improvements along the Toccoa By-pass.
Specifically, the grant is funding expansion of the city’s sewer system from the intersection of the By-pass and Big A Road to the By-pass and Highway 106.
Stephens County Commission Chairman Dean Scarborough and Toccoa Mayor Gail Fry both praised the announcement.
“This puts us on the way to getting something done and in the ground,” said Scarborough. “We are excited about it.”
Fry said the project would increase the area’s attractiveness to business prospects and provide help to existing businesses looking to expand.
“This is truly a blessing for our community,” said Fry.
Stephens County Development Authority Executive Director Tim Martin said that officials would now work on getting the project out to bid.
He noted that this project has been years in the making.
“This is proof that it takes persistence to see a project of this nature through,” said Martin. “We have been working on this since 2006 and it is nice to see this day come where we can make this announcement.”
Martin said adding sewer to this area of the Toccoa By-pass can only help with economic development, because growth follows sewer.
With the grant funding and a project design in place, Martin said they will move forward quickly with the engineer on getting work started.
Martin said he is hopeful work could start in about 120 days.
This is part of a larger sewer expansion project that Toccoa and Stephens County have designed to build out sewer on Big A Road between Rose Lane and the Toccoa By-pass, as well as the By-pass between Big A Road and Highway 106.
The project also includes water system improvements necessary to match the sewer system expansion and improvements.
In all, Martin said it is about a $10 million project and adds they will continue to seek further grants to build the entire project.