CAIRO — The Georgia Department of Community Affairs awarded the City of Cairo a $750,000 community development block grant (CDBG) Wednesday to replace aging Broad Street water infrastructure.

The project, which is expected to take about six months to complete from its mid-2021 start date, will increase water pressure and provide other benefits for about 700 residents in the area, said City Manager Chris Addleton.

"It's sorely needed," Addleton said. "We are truly appreciative of (the grant)."

The project will see the city replace old water mains along South Broad Street between 4th and 13th avenues Southwest. Addleton said that the increased size of the CDBG, formerly a $500,000 grant, will allow the city to expand the project to cover a wider area.

DCA Director Christopher Nunn noted that the project will directly improve the quality of life for hundreds of people living in Cairo.

"We don't want to have folks that don't have fire protection, that don't have quality drinking water or things of the like," Nunn said. "This really impacts lives, and it helps your community to ensure that you're continuing to build that vibrant community that I know you strive for."

Also receiving grant money Wednesday was the Grady County Joint Development Authority, which was awarded $500,000 to assist with the creation of a 20,000 square foot speculative building to attract new industries to Cairo.

Present for Wednesday's ceremony at Cairo City Hall was U.S. Representative Sanford Bishop, who described how grants like ones awarded by DCA can help small communities.

"I'm a strong believer that it should not matter what zip code or where a person lives or a child grows up or a family is living in order for them to be able to realize their full potential," said Bishop (D-Albany).

Many communities in southwest Georgia lack the resources or the tax base to tackle the infrastructure issues they face, Bishop said. Grants such as the ones awarded Wednesday are designed to make those resources available to small communities to improve the quality of life.

State Rep. Darlene Taylor (R-Thomasville) said the awards are a much-needed boost for the development of rural communities like Cairo.

"There's a thin line between being a good steward of money and bringing home the bacon," Taylor said, "and right now South Georgia needs some bacon."

Other communities which received grant awards included the cities of Attapulgus and Camilla. The City of Thomasville also received recognition for its recent designation as a PlanFirst Community. 

Representatives from the City of Boston were not present at Wednesday ceremony to receive their award in person.

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