Bulloch County's senior citizens soon will have a new center, thanks to a $750,000 Community Development Block Grant, or CDBG, from the Georgia Department of Community Affairs.
County leaders applied for the grant last spring, hoping to receive the funds to construct a new 6,200-square-foot facility on Granade Street, across from where the old Bulloch Memorial Hospital once stood.
The center will replace the current location, at 515 Denmark St., which is only 3,925 square feet and "a little cramped," said Bulloch County Manager Tom Couch.
In a statement released Friday, Couch said the proposed new facility would "offer more functional space that is compatible with an existing mixed-use neighborhood, offering better access to shopping opportunities and medical facilities for users."
Bulloch County will contribute $201,000 and other in-kind services toward the project, he said.
"The Bulloch County Board of Commissioners provides local matching funds to help support existing senior center services under Title III programs under the Older Americans Act of 1965," he said. "Title III programs help to maintain personal independence and improve the quality of life for the elderly population in Statesboro and Bulloch County."
Concerted Services, under the umbrella of the Coastal Georgia Regional Commission's Area Agency on Aging, operates the senior center's programs, which include meal service for groups attending the center as well as meals for the homebound. They also provide age-appropriate health and wellness and other related and supportive activities, he said.
"The CDBG funding assistance, combined with the proposed leverage for the new facility, will relieve a waiting list of 32 people who are eligible for Title III services," Couch said. "Commissioners Anthony Simmons and Walter Gibson serve on the Concerted Services board of directors and were instrumental in spearheading this initiative, which resulted in unanimous support of the county commission."
Bulloch County received one of 51 awards totaling $32.7 million for infrastructure and public facilities announced Thursday by Gov. Nathan Deal.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development allocated funding to Georgia's CDBG program, which is administered by the Georgia Department of Community Affairs, Couch said.
"The annual grants are one of the most recognized, competitive and vital programs administered by (the Georgia Department of Community Affairs). CDBG funds support the establishment, expansion or renovation of public facilities," he said.
The site of the new center is a lot that was used as parking for the hospital, located across from Medical Center Pharmacy at the intersection of East Grady and Granade streets. The location will provide more room and a more convenient spot for senior citizens to access, Couch said back in March, when commissioners voted to apply for the grant.
"I feel like it is in a better location for people going to the doctor or shopping, and we think it will help fill the neighborhood a little better," he said.
The location is quiet but close to several medical offices and is a short distance from downtown Statesboro as well as the commercial district surrounding the Statesboro Mall. The senior citizens center should not intrude on the neighborhood's quiet atmosphere, Couch said.
All commissioners supported applying for the grant last spring. Commissioner Curtis Deal said the new facility would be greatly appreciated, as the current center "is dated, and they have outgrown it. They would have a new facility to prepare meals; parking would be good and convenient."
Bulloch County Board of Commissioners Chairman Roy Thompson said on Friday that he is proud the county won the grant.
"We have received this funding knowing that it would be a very competitive process," he said. "We hope this opportunity is a way to say to our senior citizens thank you, and that you are important to our community. Further, I want to thank our Management Analyst Cindy Steinmann for her efforts in preparing a successful proposal and her willingness to manage this critical project, along with our state legislative delegation and community partners."
"We have been fortunate to have had many recent successes in securing outside funding in recent years to leverage local resources," Couch said. "Ms. Steinmann assembled a project team very quickly, and her attention to detail in forming a very competitive application in a short amount of time paid off."
He said the project will take up to two years to complete, with construction not likely to begin until late 2017 or early 2018.
Carter Watkins Architects of Monroe, Georgia, a firm seasoned in constructing these types of facilities, will provide final project design and construction management to compliment previous preliminary studies.