Local Officials Heading to D.C. This Week

A delegation of local officials will head to the nation’s capital this week.

A group of officials from Toccoa, Stephens County, the Chamber of Commerce, and the Development Authority will travel to Washington, D.C. Tuesday to visit with federal officials on a number of topics.

Toccoa Mayor David Austin is among those going on the trip.

He said infrastructure is at the top of the list for the group when it meets with various Representatives and Senators.

“One of the main topics of discussion will be the infrastructure improvement plan that we are working on, money to expand our sewer and wastewater capability on South Big A Road and around the Veterans’ Parkway (Toccoa By-pass),” said Austin. “We will be meeting with staff and the Congresspeople to see what kind of financial help and guidance we can get from them.”

Toccoa and Stephens County have set aside $2 million towards a project to expand wastewater service down Big A Road and then south into industrial areas of the county.

The $2 million was initially a local match designed to obtain $8 million in additional federal money for the project. However, the $8 million in federal funds was approved but never appropriated and local officials have taken local money to begin moving ahead with design work on the project. Local officials have also said they would pursue other sources of funding if that $8 million was not made available.

According to Austin, other topics that are on the agenda are the county’s high-speed broadband expansion efforts and the levels at Lake Hartwell.

Officials from Toccoa and Stephens County have made this trip annually for a number of years now.

Austin said that it helps keep the community on the tops of the minds of legislators in Washington, D.C.

“They are up there representing a lot of constituents,” said Austin. “When they know what we need, and of course the sewer thing is one of the big projects we need for growth in Toccoa and Stephens County so we can attract more business, and what they can do for us to help and build that top-of-mind awareness, that is very important.”

Austin said that the delegation will also be taking the legislators it meets with a copy of the book “Origin” by local author Jessica Khoury.

The delegation is set to return on Thursday.