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Dahlonega water, sewer systems get $300,000 for upgrade
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The Appalachian Regional Commission on Thursday awarded the city of Dahlonega with $300,000 to improve the city’s water and sewer collection system.

The grant is expected to create 50 new jobs in the area, according to the commission’s federal co-chairwoman, Anne Pope.

The Appalachian Regional Commission promotes economic development in 37 counties of the Appalachian Georgia region as well as areas of other states along the Appalachian Mountains from southern New York to northern Mississippi, according to the commission’s Web site.

"Job creation is really the linchpin of what we do here," Pope said.

Pope and Mike Beatty, commissioner of the state’s Department of Community Affairs, who represents Georgia on the regional commission, presented Dahlonega Mayor Gary McCullough and City Manager Bill Lewis with the $300,000 check Thursday morning after the commission’s meeting at North Georgia College & State University.

The money will help the city reroute a sewer line and enlarge it enough to match the capacity of the city’s new water plant, McCullough said. The sewer line now runs underneath the city’s reservoir, he said.

"We built the new water plant and our lines weren’t big enough to handle the additional load of sewage that comes from the new water plant," McCullough said. "... We had a sewer line going under the reservoir and we were able to get that out, too, with this project, so we kind of killed two birds with one stone. It’s not a good idea for sewer to be running under a drinking water reservoir."

The $787,000 project should be complete in the next couple of months, the mayor said.

Along with the $300,000 grant to Dahlonega, the ARC recently gave $365,000 to North Georgia College & State University for the Georgia Appalachian Center for Higher Education, which works in 39 North Georgia high schools to increase the number of students who continue their education in colleges, technical schools and universities.

The commission also recently awarded $59,000 to the university for its Georgia Appalachian Studies Center.

In the last five years, the ARC has funded 28 other projects in Lumpkin County. Annually, the regional commission funds about $75 million worth of projects geared toward increasing job opportunities, creating economic competitiveness, improving infrastructure and developing highways in the 420 counties of the Appalachian region.