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County, HES team up to seek tourism grant
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The Living History Site and Old Jail Museum could be better equipped to accommodate visitors, if a grant application is approved.

Effingham County and the Historic Effingham Society will find out next month if their request for up to $15,000 in grant money meets approval from the state Department of Economic Development’s Tourism Office and the Georgia Council of the Arts.

The grant money will go toward building bathroom facilities at the Old Jail Museum, which will enable the Living History Site to accommodate larger groups of visitors.

“One of the topics that has come up numerous times is having facilities at the Living History Site that can handle handicapped and larger groups,” said County Administrator David Crawley. “Right now, they have one restroom and it is not handicapped-accessible.”

If awarded a tourism product development grant, the work be completed between Jan. 5, 2013, and July 14, 2013. The grant recipient is required to put up a cash match, but Crawley said the Historic Effingham Society will raise those funds or use a portion of their own reserves.

“There will be no funds provided by the county for the match,” Crawley said.

The match could be as much as a 100 percent  match or up to 40 percent in in-kind services or materials.

The county will provide project management and also may provide inmate labor.

“They also have volunteers who are willing to do most of the construction,” Crawley said. “Most likely the county will purchase some of the material because we get a better rate.”

Only cities or counties could apply for the grants, and those entities could partner with non-profit organizations or historic societies.

As part of the grant application, the county and the HES had to enter into a memorandum of understanding, outlining the scope of the project to be funded and the responsibilities for each. The county also had to submit a letter of support, and in it, county said the funds will help local efforts to build the proper infrastructure to meet the rising demands of tourists. The bathroom facility also will accommodate visitors to events such as Olde Effingham Days and the Old-Fashioned Christmas Tree Lighting.