Calhoun Mayor Pro Tem George Crowley was welcomed as the latest member of the Northwest Georgia Regional Commission at its meeting on Thursday, filling the last vacant seat available for representatives from Gordon County.

Crowley was appointed to the commission by the Calhoun City Council on July 1. As a commission member, he will work with representatives from Bartow, Catoosa, Chattooga, Dade, Fannin, Floyd, Gilmer, Haralson, Murray, Paulding, Pickens, Polk, Walker and Whitfield counties to improve the quality of life for every Northwest Georgia resident.

The commission generally works to conserve natural and historical resources, promote growth and care for and develop Northwest Georgia’s human resources.

“We appreciate you serving and look forward to you being here through many years of service,” Commissioner Ted Rumley said. “He was on the City Council for what, 14 or 15 years, and before that he was on the school board. We are glad to have him.”

Also at Thursday’s meeting was State Road and Tollway Authority Strategic Programs Administrator David Cassell, who provided an overview of the Georgia Transportation Infrastructure Bank program. It provides grants and low-interest loans on a competitive basis to local governments, community improvement districts, and state government entities to complete projects related to preliminary engineering, right of way, and construction.

In total, $25 million are available through the GTIB program for such projects.

“In terms of what projects are eligible, they have to be motor fuel tax eligible,” Cassell said. “Think highways, bridges, and roadway improvements.”

Loan-based projects, through which local entities will repay funds over time with some interest, will be prioritized this year, Cassell said, as will loan/grant combination projects. Local commitment, economic development and mobility, innovation, and feasibility are also important components that will be considered before project receive funding.

“We interpret mobility broadly. It’s moving people,” Cassell said. “It’s moving cars, or it might be congestion improving. We also like to see innovative projects. We would love to get an innovative project that’s innovative internationally. Let’s face it, though. We don’t all have those in our hip pocket.”

Innovation, he said, differs from community to community. In some places, it might mean something as simple as constructing a county’s first-ever roundabout. Bringing something new to the table, even if it isn’t new everywhere, is important.

In the past, funding has been awarded for street resurfacing in Lakeland, road paving in Irwin County, extending Ronald Reagan Boulevard in Forsyth County, and rebuilding Radium Springs in Dougherty County, among others.

Applications for GTIB funding opened on Thursday and will be accepted until Oct. 15. Awards will be announced in January or February of next year.

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