Note: The following is one of a series of columns looking at places and events of interest in Bulloch County history.
The United States federal government's Works Progress Administration (WPA) in 1935 was created by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt as part of his "New Deal" programs with the passage of the Emergency Relief Appropriation Act. It was renamed the Works Projects Administration in 1939. WPA labor built 4,000 feet of new runways and hangar space for five planes at the Statesboro Airport.
WPA labor was used to build three new schools (Denmark, Leefield,and Portal), build additions to three schools (Popes Academy, Ogeechee School, Nevils) and repaired three Statesboro schools. A small framed hospital and a 6-acre athletic field were built on the South Georgia Teachers College campus. Local produce canning plants were built near Statesboro and Portal. Repairs were made to the Statesboro sewage plant, as well its water and sewer mains.
At the Bulloch County Courthouse, records of the Superior and Ordinary Courts were transcribed, filed and indexed. At the city engineer’s office, WPA labor helped in remapping and revaluing property.
The WPA helped the Statesboro Library establish a "colored unit," and set up a "mobile library unit" that served the outlying areas that dispensed 4,249 books alone in December 1939, and their book-renovation project fixed over 6,000 books.
The WPA’s adult education project taught at least 448 illiterate adults to read and write. In addition, surveys of the county's blind and deaf citizens were undertaken, with assistance being given to those in need. At the schools, 186,723 hot lunches were served to poor students.
In Bulloch County, during the first five years an astounding number of public works projects were undertaken. Seven new bridges were built, five steel structures totaling more than 100 feet in length and two wooden structures totaling more than 300 feet in length.
The system of roads across the county was improved with the completion of 47,497 linear feet of paved roads and 27,230 linear feet of unpaved roads. Within the municipalities in the county, 6,522 linear feet of paved streets and 7,729 linear feet of sidewalks were completed.
Roadside drainage was extended another 126,488 linear feet, 1,072 feet of pipe was laid, and 55 culverts of 1,853 feet was constructed. In the municipalities, 18,780 feet of sidewalk was repaired, 8,584 feet of curbs were added and 3,446 feet of gutters were completed.
In the federal government's fight against malaria in the county, 852 acres of swamp were drained, 8,590 linear feet of ditches were dug, and another 5,920 linear feet of ditches were repaired. Efforts to improve another 189 acres were made by digging 2,509 linear feet of ditches throughout those properties.
Roger Allen is a local lover of history. Allen provides a brief look each week at the area's past. E-mail Roger at email@example.com.