Local News

June 1, 2012

Dalton celebrates Community Development Day

Officials say federal program has helped them revitalize city

Since the new Dalton Community Center opened its doors in January, it has had some 36,000 people pass through.

Dalton officials used federal community development block grant (CDBG) money to help build the $4.38 million center. And Mayor David Pennington says that’s just one example of how Dalton has leveraged CDBG funds with local money and other state and federal dollars to improve the city.

Pennington said the CDBG program “is probably the best use of federal spending because it’s money that comes back to local communities, and local communities get to make the decisions on where it is needed.”

Pennington spoke Thursday morning at the community center during a celebration of Community Development Day.

City officials say Dalton has received $3.8 million in CDBG money since 2008. Besides building the community center, the city has used that money to run sewer and water to and build sidewalks in the Ezzard Avenue area so Habitat for Humanity can build homes there. The city has also used it for emergency repairs to homes, to repair historic buildings and to build some local parks.

“We try to do one big project each year,” Pennington said.

This year’s big project is a renovation of the Dalton-Whitfield Senior Center.

“We’ll be redoing the floors, redoing the paint, the ceiling, some of the lighting and some air conditioning units,” said Mike Brown, director of facilities and operations for Dalton Parks and Recreation.

The city has also used CDBG money to help build or renovate facilities for local service agencies such as the Family Support Council, the Carter Hope Recovery Center, Family Promise, Friendship House and the Whitfield County-Dalton Day Care Center.

This year, Compassion House will use $93,500 to demolish a building near Harmon Field and build transitional housing there.

“It’s going to be four apartments for struggling families,” said Compassion House Executive Director Scott Rhoden. “It will be a short-term, six months to a year, transitional housing program for family preservation services. We will also offer them parenting classes, marriage enrichment classes, anger management, loss recovery, life skills and other classes to help them become successful and transition into permanent housing elsewhere.”

The Dalton-Whitfield Community Development Corp. will continue to use CDBG money to fund its housing counseling program.

“With the increase in foreclosures, we went to the city and told them we needed someone just to focus on foreclosure prevention,” said Gaile Jennings, executive director of that agency. “They’ve continued to fund us, and each year we expand and see more people. Our first year, we helped almost a hundred households and last year it was 1,100 households.”

Stella Taylor, program manager at the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Office of Community Planning and Development, said Dalton is a model of how CDBG money should be used.

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