Federal Grants Mean Facelift for Jesup

First impressions can make or break anything from a vacation visit to a business deal. And now the City of Jesup has been given millions of dollars to make the right impression for visitors. It sounds like a lot of money until you look at construction or roads. But Jesup's streets and one landmark are on the way to a whole new look.

Two Amtrak trains stop there each a day to pick up and drop off passengers even though the city's century-old train station burned three years ago.

"It's been out of commission since then," said downtown Jesup director Crystal Gill. "The passengers don't have a place to go to the restroom. They haven't had a waiting room for three years."

But she feels an $800,000 federal grant will bring it back. A new lobby, a restaurant and maybe a museum could bring more visitors.

Gill sees every rider as a potential return tourist. "There's people from all over the region who come here to ride Amtrak and we don't want this to be the first thing they see," she said, referring to the damaged station.

Another $2.5 million from the federal transportation budget will improve streets in hopes of attracting new business.

"We're looking at a little of all of it," Mayor Herb Shaw said. "Sidewalks, curbing and gutter, widening streets, widening bypass roads."

Shaw says they'll take their time to study several plans before they change anything. Both Shaw and Gill says they've got only one chance to make a first impression with visitors, whichever way they arrive.

Gill says they found out just this week they have an additional $50,000 for designing the depot work. The other money will be used entirely for construction.

Don't expect to see it finished quickly. They estimate it will all take about three years.

Reported by: Dal Cannady, dcannady@wtoc.com