Thanks to a newly revamped Georgia Department of Transportation grant program, Dawson County and the city of Dawsonville have received nearly $300,000 to improve roads and sidewalks in 2013.
DOT staff presented checks totaling about $283,177 to the local governments last week through the Local Maintenance and Improvements Grant program.
Funded by a percentage of the state's motor fuel tax, the funds are based on population and mileage in the state's more than 700 municipalities.
Local officials said the funds couldn't have come at a better time.
"We only have four miles of road budgeted for 2013, and it's because we no longer have SPLOST V dollars," said Dawson County Commission Chairman Mike Berg, who accepted the county's $266,354.27 allotment.
"Any dollars that we get in are going to be put directly into the roads, to filing the potholes, to repaving and fixing the sides and it's desperately needed in this county."
The county commission recently approved a list of seven projects that include 3.44 miles of roa at a cost of $1.55 million to be completed in 2013. The list was then approved at the state level.
Terry Gables, DOT local grant administrator, said 2013 is the first year the money has been distributed "as soon as the applications are approved," which gives the local governments the responsibility to manage the funds.
"[Cities and counties] get the funds up front, so it gives the flexibility to the local governments. They can set their budget and their priorities," he said.
The city council plans to use Dawsonville's $16,523 share to continue the sidewalk project through downtown.
"It will actually connect the courthouse to the downtown area and give us some additional parking spaces," said Mayor James Grogan. "It means a lot, and it's a joint effort with trying to bring all county offices and everything into the downtown area. We really appreciate it."
State Sen. Steve Gooch of Dahlonega, a former DOT board member, joined the check presentation ceremonies.
"Counties and cities are struggling with their budgets, fighting the feds and the state," said Gooch, whose district includes Dawson County.
"Roads are continuing to deteriorate all over the state and monies are scarce, so this is a good opportunity for the county and the city to use this state resource to help continue to maintain their roads in a better fashion."