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First engraved bricks arrive for Streetscape

Three pallets –– which contained about 150 engraved, dark, red bricks –– were placed near a backdoor of Stately Oaks Plantation, in Jonesboro.

Barbara Emert, president of Historical Jonesboro/Clayton County, Inc., inspected the bricks, and read some of the engravings.

She said the non-profit organization recently received the first shipment of the engraved bricks for the City of Jonesboro's Streetscape project. "It just adds interest and a personal touch to just a plain sidewalk," said Emert.

About 565 engraved bricks were ordered individuals, which assisted the organization in raising approximately $9,000 for its preservation and educational efforts, she said. The bricks sold for $35 each, or three for $100, she added.

Eventually, the bricks will be installed in three sidewalk areas of Downtown, said Emert. Currently, those areas have regular bricks installed. The non-profit organization expects to receive all of the already purchased bricks the end of January. Installation should begin soon after that, she said.

Tommy Newsome, president of Newsome Engineering and Consulting, Inc., is the project engineer for Streetscape. He said the sidewalk area where the engraved bricks are to be installed will be on Main Street, between Mill Street and Church Street. It's roughly 400 feet in length, he said.

Emert said the regular bricks will be removed for the engraved bricks to be installed. Historical Jonesboro is expecting to receive another shipment of about 150 engraved bricks, on Wednesday, Dec. 29, she said.

Most bricks have messages that take up to three lines. Some honor individuals, or are in remembrance of those who have passed on. Others have names of companies located in Jonesboro, or hold unique messages, she said.

The bricks have been bought "a lot of Jonesboro residents, people who used to live in Jonesboro, and people and companies that have a tie to Jonesboro," Emert said.

She said that about two years ago, the non-profit organization approached the City of Jonesboro with the idea for the special bricks. "It is just going to give it [the downtown area] a more unified look, more attractive, eye-appealing," she said. "We hope it will give residents of Jonesboro a larger sense of pride."

Emert said around Valentine's Day of 2011, there will be another opportunity for individuals to purchase engraved bricks, but it will be at a higher cost, because the organization will be responsible for the expense of construction work to place the bricks. Currently, since the Streetscape project is taking place, the organization is not responsible for this expense.

She added that at least 50 bricks need to be ordered for a second installation to take place. Project Engineer Newsome said construction is currently on schedule and Phase I of Steetscape should be completed the end of February 2011.

Mayor Luther Maddox said that during the rest of the holidays, workers will focus on finishing the wiring of the street lights, as well as the re-paving of the three downtown railroad crossings.

According to Maddox, the Streetscape project covers half a mile of both Main Street –– from North Avenue to South Avenue –– and McDonough Street –– from Johnson Street to Turner Road.

The city is in the process of applying for the GATEway (Georgia Transportation Enhancement) Grant Program, for Phase II of the project, said Maddox. The city should know April, if it is the recipient of the grant, he added.

Maddox said the city has received about $2.7 million in federal funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, which was distributed to Jonesboro through the Georgia Department of Transportation.