VALDOSTA -- Lowndes County Commissioners gave the go-ahead to solicit bids for an expansion to the New Horizons homeless shelter on Tuesday.

The project concept -- which would increase the shelter's capacity from 30 to 50 -- was approved in August, but commissioners needed to send the project out for bids in order to secure grant funding from the state Department of Community Affairs and the federal department of Housing and Urban Development. HUD has agreed to contribute $187,287 toward the project through a Community Development Block Grant, but requires a dollar-for-dollar match. DCA has promised another $100,000 in funding with "special consideration for the balance of the match requirements," according to county documents.

The total project cost is expected to exceed $300,000. Should DCA elect not meet any cost overruns, the County Commission could elect to walk away from the project.

The Board of Commissioners is expected to contribute as much as $25,000 toward planning and construction with the final amount to be determined once all of the grants have been processed.

Currently, New Horizons is open only to women and children. The expansion is designed to help the shelter accommodate homeless families -- including those headed by men -- rather than forcing the family to split up in order to find shelter.

Once bids are collected, construction can move forward.

In other business, Commissioners:

Unanimously approved a beer and wine license for the Lake Park Travel Center, located at 6901 Bellville Road.;

Unanimously reappointed Tim Carroll to the Greater Lowndes Planning Commission;

Unanimously appointed Sheila Wakeley to the South Georgia Community Service Board;

Reappointed Joyce Evans to serve another term on the Valdosta-Lowndes County Conference Center and Tourism Authority;

Unanimously approved a TPA stop loss renewal for the employee health plan with Peoples Benefits Life;

Unanimously awarded a contract for maintenance services of heating and air units in Lowndes County facilities to Siemens Building Technologies in the amount of $26,706. Commissioners chose not to approve the low bid from Commercial Heating and Air because of concerns over past performance, and

Unanimously approved the purchase of a new truck mounted boom mower from Adam's Equipment Co. in the amount of $92,800.

To contact reporter Bill Roberts, please call 244-3400, ext. 245.

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