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Tobar makes case to commissioners today for 20th Street S.E. project

The Cairo City Council is committed to moving forward with improvements to its portion of 20th Street S.E. and as The Messenger went to press Wednesday it was unclear if Grady County Commissioners would reverse course and commit additional money to the project.
The city, county and Joint Development Authority had come to together to apply for a state grant for the full depth reclamation of the street, which serves Woodhaven, one of the county’s largest employers as well as other tenants in Milestone Industrial Park and the surrounding area.
Unfortunately, the grant was not approved and when Grady County administrator Carlos Tobar sought a commitment from county commissioners last week for additional county funds for the project the board decided to delay work for up to two years.
Commissioners were meeting again this morning at 8 a.m. and Tobar said Tuesday he would make a push for an additional $65,000 to be combined with the $80,000 the commissioners already committed to the project.
“I’ve been talking to Department of Transportation officials for two days,” Tobar said. The administrator said with the help of State Representative Darlene Taylor, he was confident the DOT would invest up to $90,000 in the project.
Tobar is banking on $200,000 from the city and $50,000 from the JDA to be combined with $145,000 of county funds to pay for the project.
The county administrator says he is also hopeful that by bidding out the 20th Street S.E. project with a similar project for the portion of Old 179 North within the corporate limits of Whigham the best prices can be obtained.
The city has been allocated $140,970.81 in Local Maintenance & Improvement Grant program funds from the state for FY2017, an increase of approximately 30 percent.
The mayor and council support investing all of the 2017 LMIG in the 20th Street project plus the city’s required 30 percent match of $42,291.24 which total $183,262.05 in funds available for 20th Street S.E. To make up the difference, the city would use Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax proceeds.
Cairo Mayor Bobby Burns lobbied the council to move forward regardless of the county’s involvement. “The city can’t sit around and let someone else dictate what needs to be done. It’s an extremely deteriorated road,” Burns said.
The council’s attorney, Thomas L. Lehman, said if the city went forward with only the JDA he would encourage the city to rehabilitate the road up to the intersection with Dit Hester Drive.
Councilman James H. (Jimmy) Douglas voiced opposition to paving any part of a county road and suggested the council commit the funds for the project and address the details later.
Mayor Burns also suggested the project not be done if the unused railroad spur could not be removed. Cairo city manager Chris Addleton said he would work with the railroad to have the spur removed if the project moved forward.
Tobar expressed confidence Tuesday afternoon that the commissioners would approve the appropriation of the additional LMIG funds allocated to the county for the project in order to receive the additional state DOT funding.
The commissioners met at 8 a.m. Wednesday.

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