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County to seek DOT Gateway grant
Will partner with Chamber on effort to beautify stretch of Highway 21 from Rincon city limits to McC
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Effingham County commissioners face a deadline today to apply for a state Gateway grant.

Commissioners approved seeking a grant from the state Department of Transportation to enhance a section of Highway 21. The city of Rincon had a similar grant approved in May.

The city’s grant will cover beautification along a section of Highway 21, from just north of Walmart to the city’s boundary near the Schweighoffer Creek. The county is seeking a grant that will cover the installation and plantings for the Highway 21 median from the Rincon city limits to approximately McCall Road.

The Effingham Chamber of Commerce, which partnered with Rincon for its grant, is also teaming with the county in its bid.

The grants allow for a locality to get up to $50,000 per year, county project manager Adam Kobek said. The installation and plantings are expected to be covered by the grant, and the cost is estimated to be $28,860.

Under the grant, the county will be responsible for maintenance for up to 50 years. The cost for maintenance in the first year is expected to be $9,432.

“Maintenance will be our issue,” County Administrator David Crawley said.

Among the plants the county and chamber are eyeing for the median are various grasses, crape myrtles, junipers and lantana.

“All told, we’re planting 2,056 plants in that space,” said former Chamber president Freddy Long, who spearheaded the Chamber’s Gateway initiative.

The county and the city will be limited on the kind of plants in the median because of right-of-way and line-of-sight issues, Long said.

“We had EMC’s landscape engineer help us, and we had to tweak our plan,” he said.

Garden City’s issues with its median plantings — they have to be cut three times a year, Long said — led the Chamber to avoid the same plants for its Effingham projects.

“We feel confident the plants we have selected now will be OK,” he said.

Long said he also would like to apply for another grant for the county to extend its project all the way to the new Old Augusta Road entrance at Highway 21.

The county and the city can re-apply for the grants every year.