Our Time and Place:
A History of
Jackson County, Ga
A complete history of Jackson County, Georgia
from 1796 to the present. Written in narrative style for easy
reading. Includes material not found in other books about Jackson
this book online
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Jackson Co. to host West Hall on Sat.
Perhaps the dawn of a new calendar year will provide a much needed spark to the Jackson County boys basketball team, whose season thus far has not been what the squad had hoped for at the seasons beginning. In fact, Jackson County could be helped tremendously by a New Years resolution to improve their defense and hit the glass hardertwo things that coach Ron Smith has been harping on all season to his team.
Lady Tigers To Face Tough Test In Banks, Jefferson
Note: Due to early Monday holiday deadlines, results from the champion and consolation rounds of the Commerce Holiday Classic were not available.
Dragons win Keen Classic, to travel to Cen. Gwinnett on Friday
When Jefferson grapplers travel to Central Gwinnett for the Gwinnett Invitational this Friday, expect many at the Class AAAAA school to have their eyes on the Class A No. 1 Dragons.
Neighboorhood News ..
The industrial divide
A government purchase of land off Hwy. 72 for a proposed second county industrial park sparked months of controversy early in 2002.
The ordeal was perhaps the most notable land development conflict in the county in years and thus earned The Journals Top Story of the Year for 2002.
Animal shelter opens in Madison County
After years of anticipation, a Madison-Oglethorpe Animal Shelter opened in December.
Business faces contamination allegations
One of Madison County's biggest businesses, Trus Joist, faced criticism this year from those who believe the company may not be acting in an environmentally responsible manner.
To grow or not to grow
Nineteen buildings currently sit empty at Banks Crossingthats 19 opportunities for additional sales tax revenue that sit unused.
Just two months ago, only 17 buildings were unoccupied, as two more restaurants have since closed their doors, falling victim to competition and a declining economy.
School system makes changes at the top
For the past several years, the upper level administration within the Banks County School System has been fairly stable.
Deborah White has been superintendent for three years. Travis Moon had been elementary school principal for 14 years.
The Jackson Herald
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Scott Martin, Newsmaker of the Year
Landing industries, seeking unity keeps Scott Martin on the run
Jackson County has a long, tainted history of sectional infighting. Thats partly due to its large size, and partly due to having a plethora of local government entities.
Even the county government at the center has become fragmented with the creation three years ago of a by-district board of commissioners. That action had the unintended consequence of having issues often decided more by sectional politics more than a county-wide focus.
Little, it seems, escapes the bitter rivalries, jealousies and power-playing that has come to characterize Jackson County political life over the last three decades.
But there are a few individuals in public life who have risen above that fray, a handful of men and women who refuse to engage in, or take advantage of, this bitter internecine fighting. Rather than seeking headlines for themselves, these individuals seek to make headlines for Jackson County in a positive way. And although they refuse to play the game of county politics, they have still managed to contribute greatly to the public life in the community, even making efforts to bring leaders together in the face of events that seem to tear them apart.
Scott Martin is one of those people. As chairman of the Jackson County Industrial Development Authority, Martin plays a huge role in the growth of the countys business sector, the creation of new jobs and the expansion of the countys tax base. Along with Jackson County Chamber of Commerce president Pepe Cummings, Martin is one of the first faces industrial prospects see when they come to look at the community as a potential new business site. Indeed, it was Martin who was one of the key behind-the-scenes players this past year in luring the huge MACI project to Jackson County.
Because of his role in that major venture, and his ongoing efforts to bring a sense of unity to Jackson Countys fractured political landscape, Martin is the 2002 Newsmaker of the Year.
Martins role in the countys economic development leadership is one of a delicate balance. He has to be pro-growth without pandering to greedy opportunists. Companies that approach Martin saying they want cheap labor in Jackson County generally get a cold shoulder. Cheap labor does not help move the county forward or raise the communitys standard of living.
He has a very natural understanding of the benefits of economic development for our community, said Roy Stowe, division manager of marketing and member services for Jackson Electric Membership Corporation. He understands how it has to be a team effort between a variety of players in our community. He fully understands that there are several players at the table and that all of those players are necessary. Hes done a good job of bringing all of those responsible players to the table to have an effective working coalition of people.
Perhaps one of the keys to Martins success is his unique perspective. He is a life-long Jackson Countain who has not been disillusioned by the years of political disunity. A graduate of Commerce High School, Martin continues to live in Commerce, but works in Jefferson at Jackson EMC as marketing director. Because of his work, he meets and works with companies in the high-growth I-85 corridor.
In short, Martin appears to have a newcomers can-do enthusiasm with the keen eye on how to avoid the many political land mines found in Jackson County. His view is broad and not constrained by sectional politics.
Scott is one of the most dedicated, enthusiastic, disciplined economic development persons Ive ever worked with, said Charles Blair, 2002 chairman of the Jackson County Area Chamber of Commerce and president of First Commerce Bank. He stays with a project to its finish. He has a real knack of being able to cut through the chaff and get down to what is really important and really focus on whats important and what the needs of the people who are there trying to seek a site.
The MACI project is a textbook case of how Martin and others within the economic development leadership landed a coup for the county with a minimum of controversy. Not only did Martin devote hundreds of hours to the MACI project over a year, he helped smooth out the wrinkles that fall across all super-large projects.
At one point during the final days of the deal, some other leaders in the county attempted to orchestrate a diversion of school property taxes to other uses. Martin calmly, but firmly, made it clear that such a scheme would not happen and that pushing the idea could derail the entire deal. The idea faded, but without the kind of bitterness that might have otherwise resulted had it been handled by someone with less skill and diplomacy.
He has a real ability to bridge that gap, said Blair. He has a real good working relationship with the county commissioners, the board of education and the IDA. He and Pepe (Cummings, chamber president) make a real good team. He is just a real asset for our community.
But Martin backs away from taking credit for projects such as MACI, or the Havertys warehouse in Braselton which he also played a major role in landing.
There is no way you can do one of these projects without having volunteers from the business community, Martin said recently. They provide the needed credibility. When you meet with these companies, if there is a volunteer from another company that believes in Jackson County enough to be there, that is credibility. Also, the board of commissioners have to be involved. We have to all be on the same page. The larger projects impact every aspect of Jackson County from the infrastructure, taxes, schools...
It is that belief which has led Martin to work behind the scenes to bring Jackson Countys leaders together for the common good of economic development. Martin recently hosted a joint meeting between the IDA and the county commissioners in an effort to make sure both groups were on the same page in the countys economic development efforts.
Ive watched Scott do this over time, said Stowe. His guiding principle is really community service. He has no other objective other than how to serve his community. That is a good compass to follow that leads you true in most decisions.
BOC moves forward on courthouse despite
A new courthouse is something that has been needed in Jackson County for a long time. No one disputes the need for the facility. One only has to spend a little time in the courtroom or the clerks office to see the need for more space and a more modern facility.
However, one thing that was disputed throughout 2002 is the site selected for the new courthouse. The board of commissioners agreed in early February to take an option on a large tract of land on Darnell Road for a courthouse. This led to opposition from many who felt the location was not easily accessible and would be too expensive due to the roadwork needed for the project. This leads to the new courthouse project being named as the Political Story of the Year.
A timeline of the events surrounding the selection of the courthouse site are as follows:
On Jan. 14, 2002, the Jefferson City Council approved a rezoning and annexation request made by Carl McNichols for 63.3 acres from AG to R-1. The request was for a 93-lot subdivision along Darnell Road. The McNichols request first came in October 2001 when the city first agreed to annex the land for a residential development. It then went to the Jackson County Planning Commission in December, and back to the city in January for the final action. This is part of the tract that the Jackson County Board of Commissioners took an option on three weeks later (see below).
The Jackson County Board of Commissioners met in closed session for more than one hour on Monday, Jan. 21, to discuss real estate, personnel and litigation. No action was taken when the meeting was opened to the public. The closed session was not on the agenda, but commissioner Sammy Thomason asked that it be added. When the meeting was opened, county attorney Daniel Haygood reported that one real estate issue was discussed. No details were given.
The BOC agreed on Monday, Feb. 4, to take an option on several tracts of land on Darnell Road as a possible site for a new courthouse. The proposed site is situated along Darnell Road east of Jefferson between Hwy. 15 and County Farm Road. The BOC asked the public to submit comments and alternate proposals to the county managers office by March 15. Officials said no final decision had been made on the site for a new courthouse.
The BOC refused a request Tuesday, Feb. 12, from The Jackson Herald for a copy of the site plan at Darnell Road in time to be published in this weeks edition.
On Feb. 13, the BOC held a meeting to unveil the 157-acre site on Darnell Road that is the prime location targeted for a new county courthouse complex. The cost of the property would be $2.1 million. Around 35 people, mostly area lawyers and city and county officials, attended the hearing. Commissioner Sammy Thomason made the presentation. The proposal includes several road projects to make the site more accessible. One of the proposed roads would be a connector from the Dry Pond exit at I-85 to Hwy. 82 near the county airport. The other would be an eastside bypass of Jefferson starting at Hwy. 82 and ending at Hwy. 129 south of town. No cost estimate was given for the road projects. The estimated cost given for the land and judicial facility was $10 million. BOC chairman Harold Fletcher also spoke and said concerns with a site selected in downtown Jefferson by a citizens committee two years ago include traffic and the cost.
County leaders denied any subterfuge in the annexation of Carl McNichols property on Darnell Road. McNichols said that the county only contacted him at the first of February, several weeks after the annexation became final. He said a development option on the site from the Mansfield Group fell through after the city was unable to commit to sewerage for the subdivision.
On Feb. 15, the BOC denied an open records request from The Jackson Herald for documents related to the proposed purchase of 157 acres for a new county courthouse. The request was for all records, documents and letters related to the four tracts of land that the county has taken an option to purchase.
The BOC went on a retreat the first week in March to discuss several issues, including the proposed new courthouse. The retreat was not announced in advance as is required under the Georgia Open Meetings Law.
The Jefferson Industrial Development Authority offers $10,000 to the BOC to use for a professional study for a courthouse site.
The BOC rejected a proposed 18.5 acre site for a courthouse submitted by commissioner Stacey Britt at a March 4 meeting. The action came after a 10-minute closed session to discuss real estate. The site is south of Peach Hill, just across the Hwy. 15 bridge in Jefferson. A public vote on this matter was not taken after the meeting was opened. Chairman Harold Fletcher announced that the board elected not to pursue this site for several reasons.
The BOC announced that several public hearings had been set to take input on the courthouse project. He added that the Darnell Road site presented by the commissioners was only a proposal and that no decision had been made.
The Jefferson Area Business Association officially opposes the selection of a Darnell Road site for the new courthouse.
BOC chairman Harold Fletcher said a downtown location for a new courthouse would cost $3.3 million. He said that he had met with Tom, Gunnels, a district courthouse official, who told him the county would need a minimum of 10 acres for a new facility.
The BOC received 35 letters from county residents on the proposed courthouse site. Only five of those favored the proposed Darnell Road site.
Despite repeated comments that no final decision had been made to purchase the Darnell Road site for a new courthouse, sources told The Herald that instructions had been given to begin work for county water and sewer to serve Darnell Road for a new courthouse. According to sources close to the plans, BOC chairman Harold Fletcher instructed the Jackson County Water and Sewerage Authority to begin the groundwork to serve the proposed courthouse site with county water and sewer lines. County water officials confirmed that an engineer was already working on the water and sewer plans for the site.
BOC members spoke publicly for the first time on why they favor the Darnell Road site for a new courthouse. The comments came after Jerry Presley, one of the 20 people speaking at a public hearing in Jefferson, asked each of the commissioners to address why he supports the site over the Leo Daly site recommended by the courthouse committee.
Public hearings were held March 21, March 25 and March 26 in three districts in the county. Sammy Thomason presented a slide show on the proposed site and the need for a courthouse and comments were taken from the public. Several of the meetings were tense as members of the BOC openly challenged those who spoke against the boards plans. Some 150 people attended the meetings, with the largest turnout being in Jefferson where approximately 100 attended. The majority of those who spoke at the meetings were against the Darnell Road site.
The final district public hearing was held March 28 in Commerce. Of the 13 citizens who spoke, 10 backed the Darnell Road site.
An online survey at Mainstreetnews.com, found that 44 percent of the 206 people who responded favor a downtown courthouse site.
The Leo Daly Firm declined a request from the BOC to present its courthouse recommendation at a public meeting.
County manager Al Crace outlined the 14 key priorities of the BOC at a Chamber of Commerce meeting on May 1. One of the priorities was to establish a new judicial facility (courthouse) by end of 2004.
At a May 6 BOC meeting, chairman Harold Fletcher reported that the countys study of the Darnell Road site would be complete in two weeks. County manager Al Crace reported that the environmental studies had been completed and are being analyzed.
Commissioner Stacey Britt put a third option for a new courthouse on the table for consideration at a May 20 BOC meeting. He presented a map for a 37-acre site at Hwy. 129 and Storey Lane, north of Jefferson across from Faith Baptist Church. No action was taken on the site and Britt only asked that the other board members consider it.
County manager Al Crace spoke at a Family Connections meeting on county projects, including the courthouse. He said the new judicial facility should be finished by the end of 2004 with site finalization completed in the summer of 2002. He said financing authorization would be given in e fall of 2002 and a groundbreaking would be held in the spring of 2003.
In a 3-2 closed door vote, the BOC agreed on May 28 to spend $2.1 million to purchase 150 acres on Darnell Road to locate a new courthouse. BOC chairman Harold Fletcher and commissioners Sammy Thomason and Tony Beatty voted in favor of the purchase, while Stacey Britt and Emil Beshara voted against it. Fletcher reportedly made the motion on the vote. The vote was taken in secret following a two-hour closed door discussion by the board. Fletcher announced the results following the meeting. In purchasing the property, the board rejected a counter proposal offered by Britt to study a site north of Jefferson near Faith Baptist Church. According to minutes of these meeting, which were released after an open records request, Fletcher made a motion to extend the Darnell Road option for another 60 days and study and compare the proposed courthouse sites. Emil Beshara seconded this motion. Stacey Britt and Sammy Thomason voted against it. The minutes did not list whether Tony Beatty voted or not.
At a May 28 BOC meeting, three architectural firms addressed the board on the process of siting and building a new courthouse. The firms were invited to the meeting by Beshara.
An open records request by The Jackson Herald for all financial records dealing with the purchase of the Darnell Road site revealed that the county paid double the fair market value of the property. The most recent fair market value as set by the Jackson County tax appraisers office for the four tracts on Darnell Road is $877,846. The county paid $2.1 million for the property.
At a June 17 meeting, the BOC agreed to seek information from companies interested in the design and construction of the courthouse. The BOC also agreed for finance director John Hulsey to seek a tax anticipation note or other financing proposals for funding the project.
In a unanimous vote, the BOC agreed July 1 to borrow $3 million to start work on the Darnell Road courthouse site. The funding, which includes the $2.1 million already approved for the land acquisition, will be used to begin constructing roads, surveying, hiring an architect and working with a site planner through the end of the year. It was also announced at this meeting, that all four parties with land interest at the 157-acre Darnell Road site formally sold their property to the county one week earlier.
The BOC received proposals from 28 architecture firms interested in the new courthouse project. The board plans to interview the top three candidates. At this meeting, commissioner Sammy Thomason asked that each BOC member be allowed to appoint one citizen representative to assist them in the screening process. He said this citizen should be someone with the technical knowledge to advise them. Thomason said he plans to ask Wayne Wilbanks to assist him with the interview process.
The BOC agreed in a split vote on Aug. 5 to purchase seven additional acres at Darnell Road for a courthouse. Harold Fletcher, Sammy Thomason and Emil Beshara voted to purchase the property. Stacey Britt voted against the action and Tony Beatty abstained from voting. The BOC agreed to pay the Swaim family $362,250 for the property. Also at this meeting, the BOC discussed a request to seek engineering, surveying and design proposals for the proposed Jackson Parkway to serve the Darnell Road area. But Britt asked that the county hold off on this until it gets more information on the financing for the road work needed for the new MACI plant in North Jackson. The BOC did approve a request to allocate $19,750 to go toward surveying services for Ringo & Sadler Engineers & Surveyors of Commerce for topographical mapping, recombination plans and maps for the courthouse project.
At a Aug. 27 BOC meeting, the board voted 4-1 to proceed with interviewing the top architect candidates for the new courthouse. Stacey Britt voted against the measure saying that he wants to consider another site. Emil Beshara said that the initial work done by the architect would not be site specific.
The BOC met with Tom Gunnels, courthouse administrator for a 21-county area, at an Aug. 27 meeting. The discussion centered around the judicial offices and the courthouse architect and design team. Gunnels said a programming and needs assessment should be done with county employees giving input. The BOC also discussed whether a project manager should be hired on a consultant basis, or whether the architect could handle these duties. No action was taken, but Sammy Thomason said he favored hiring a local person to serve as project manager.
Commissioner Emil Beshara wrote a newspaper column on the courthouse selection process.
The BOC met for eight hours on September 6 at the Commerce Civic Center to hear proposals from five firms interested in designing the new courthouse. Those firms were: Cooper Carry, Heery International, Carter Watkins, The Facilities Group and Milton Pate Architects. A second all-day meeting was held the next week with two more firms, presenting their proposals. Those attending the meeting were: Harold Fletcher, Sammy Thomason, Emil Beshara, Al Crace, Andy Newton, Stan Brown, Tom Gunnels and Wayne Wilbanks.
The BOC narrowed the search for an architect to two firms, Cooper-Carry and F.J. Clark, at a Sept. 16 meeting. Also at this meeting, the board approved a motion from Thomason to hire a project manager on a consultant basis to oversee the courthouse construction for the county.
Cooper-Carry and F.J. Clark, the top two architect firms selected by the BOC for the courthouse project, gave one-hour presentations at a public meeting at Jackson EMC. Only eight residents attended the meeting.
The BOC agreed in a 4-1 vote at an Oct. 7 meeting to hire Cooper-Carry as the architect for the courthouse project. Stacey Britt voted against the motion and asked that a second site near the new Jefferson bypass be considered first. Emil Beshara said an architect would need to be hired regardless of the location of the courthouse. Also at this meeting, Wayne Wilbanks was hired to serve as a project manager for the courthouse project on a consultant basis. A fee was not set for this service, but the board said it would be negotiated. Britt also voted against this motion. The county received three bids for this service with the other two coming from Don Denaudy and Herb Saunders.
The City of Jefferson offered the Jackson County BOC 25 acres to locate a new courthouse. The property is located on Hwy. 129, just north of the downtown area. It is between the new Hwy. 129 bypass and the old Hwy. 129. Property owner Jackson Davidson has reportedly agreed to donate the land to the city with the stipulation that it be given to the county for the sole purpose of locating a courthouse on it.
The BOC asked the City of Jefferson for more information on the offer of 25 acres for a courthouse. County manager Al Crace sent Jefferson Mayor Jim Joiner a letter asking for additional information, including the specific location, a plat, identification of the proposed access, utilities available, soil information and whether there are any restrictions on the use of the land.
The BOC finalized its agreement with Wayne Wilbanks who will serve as the owners representative in the courthouse project. Wilbanks will be paid $100 per hour for his work on the project. The county will also pay Wilbanks $135 per month for communication and home office services, which includes pager, cell phone, Internet connection and related costs.
The BOC unanimously agreed at an Oct. 21 meeting to take an option on the 200 acres owned by Jack Davidson. But, county manager Al Crace said on Oct. 23, that Davidson had rejected the countys offer. He said Davidson didnt want a jail to be located within a specific distance of property lines on the site.
Despite a week of intense negotiations, the BOC voted 3-2 not to study a second site offered for a new county courthouse. The vote came after a sometimes heated discussion over studying a 200-acre site north of Jefferson. Harold Fletcher, Tony Beatty and Sammy Thomason voted against studying the second site, while Stacey Britt and Emil Beshara voted in favor of it.
Courthouse consultant Wayne Wilbanks, Cooper Carry representatives and county officials traveled to Douglas County to tour the courthouse there. It was designed by Cooper Carry. Also in late October, several county officials also toured the Columbia County courthouse annex, which is similar in size to the facility planned in Jackson County.
Wilbanks gave the BOC an update Monday on the effort toward constructing a new courthouse. He said representatives from Cooper Carry, the architect selected for the project, have met with county officials on their needs in a new courthouse facility. Judges, elected court officials and area lawyers are among those who met with the architects.
In other business, Wilbanks reported that requests for proposals have been sent to engineering firms approved by the BOC. Wilbanks planned to meet with Mark Elliott of Cooper Carry and county engineer Stan Brown this week to review the proposals.
Wilbanks has also reviewed quotes from Photo Science and Hoffman regarding providing topographical surveys for the County Farm property so that it can be included in the master plan. Wilbanks said Photo Science provided the quote with the best value and was awarded the work. The company will provide its data to Cooper Carry by Nov. 25.
Wilbanks also said that Cooper Carry is continuing to work on the master plan, which will be presented to the BOC at its Jan. 6 meeting.
The BOC held a called session to meet with its architects on the new courthouse project. Jerry Cooper and Mark Elliott of Cooper Carry gave an update on the project. The firm has completed the interviews with courthouse personnel on the space needs for the new facility and the site analysis. They plan to present the master plan at the Jan. 6 BOC meeting. In other business, the BOC hired Geo Hydro to handle the geo-technical work needed at the site.
The BOC changed the short-term financing for the courthouse project. The BOC had earlier approved a $3 million tax anticipation note to cover the costs of the 160 acres on Darnell Road and the preliminary work for the new courthouse. At the Dec. 14 meeting, the BOC agreed to seek a four-year finance agreement with the Association County Commissioners of Georgia for these funds. The county will have four years to pay off the loan with the first payment, $640,000, plus interest, due December 2003. Yearly payments would be made through 2006.
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Drought, Water Were Top Stories
Of The Past Year
Usually when the weather dominates the news, it is the extremities of weather, storms or floods that wreak havoc with dynamic suddenness.
That was not the case in the Commerce area during 2002, but between the fourth year of drought and the completion of the Bear Creek Reservoir, the availability of water was the top story of 2002.
Both parts of the story were carry-overs from prior years. The drought entered its fourth and most severe year, while the reservoir, already six months late when 2002 dawned, is a project a decade and a half into the making.
While late fall and winter have turned wet, the first half of the year saw continued shortages of rainfall. By spring, water restrictions were in effect.
The reservoir was to have been completed and the water plant in operation by July 1, 2001, but Beers Construction Company ran late on the water plant. Every month, a new projected completion date was announced, only to be replaced with a later one the next month. As spring turned to summer, the Bear Creek Reservoir and its water plant were done. Just in time.
But this past summer was drier than even the past three years. A statewide restriction requiring odd-even watering was eventually expanded in many jurisdictions, including the Jackson County Water and Sewerage Authority territory, to a full ban on outdoor watering. That was necessary because the level of water in the new reservoir continued to fall. Athens-Clarke was pulling all of its water from the reservoir and the water level on the Middle Oconee River was so low that no water could be pumped from it into the reservoir.
In Commerce, the situation was not quite so severe, even though for a week or two the city's reservoir on the Grove River was so low that no water came over the spillway into the river downstream. Still, the city never had to implement the next phase (beyond odd-even outdoor use restrictions) of its drought management plan after a couple of two-inch rains refilled the lake.
But the drought served as a reminder to many public officials in the area of the need to find additional sources of water and to look at long-range plans to reduce water consumption. Whether they will remember that lesson during 2003, when much rain is expected from the El Niño phenomenon supposedly under way, remains to be seen.
NWA VS JCW&SA
Water was at the root of one major controversy during the year which pitted two water suppliers against each other.
When the Jackson County Water and Sewerage Authority decided to run lines in the territory established by the Nicholson Water Authority's charter, the NWA went to court to stop it.
Unfortunately for the NWA, the court found that it was illegally constituted, having not abided by the provisions of its own charter, and further found that nothing in its charter prevented JCW&SA from operating in the 32-square-mile area set forth in NWA's charter.
As a result of the attention it received by going to court, the Jackson County Grand Jury named four members to the authority, meetings that are regularly scheduled and open to the public, and attempts by the Nicholson City Council to gain some control over how the authority operates.
Commerce Awards Bid To
Build 2.6 Miles Of Sidewalks
Work should begin this month on the construction of 2.6-miles of sidewalks in Commerce.
The city opened bids on its Transportation Enhancement Grant project in December and expects to award the $688,448 low bid at its Jan. 13 meeting to Municipal Contracting Com-pany.
The project consists of two parts. One calls for the construction of a new sidewalk down Waterworks Road from the Willoughby Homes housing project to Minish Drive, up the hill past Heritage Hills Apartments and left on Lakeview Street to Commerce Elementary School. From the elementary school, the sidewalk will also turn right on Lakeview Drive, go past Commerce High School to Jefferson Road.
The other portion will be on Homer Road from Hardee's north almost to Cordes Place. That section will also include curb and gutter drainage.
The federal Department of Transportation grant, administered through the Georgia Department of Transportation, includes $685,914 in federal funds and a $308,531 local match.
Eight companies submitted bids for the work. The second-lowest bid was $710,897 from Kemi Construction.
City Manager Clarence Bryant said construction will begin as soon as the city gets the easements it needs on the Homer Road section, although work could begin on the other part of the project, where all of the work is on the rights of way, while officials work on the easements.