Communities in Georgia, Texas and Tennessee have been awarded the “Cotton Town USA” designation under a program sponsored by Bayer CropScience and the National Cotton Women's Committee.

Recipients of the 2003 Cotton Town USA grants are Moultrie, Ga., Ropesville, Texas, and Somerville, Tenn., each of which will receive a $10,000 grant to fund community improvement projects.

“After reviewing the many contest applications, it is apparent that rural American towns are facing economic challenges,” says Cotton Nelson, manager, public relations for the National Cotton Council. “These three Cotton Town grant recipients provided clear plans on how they want to improve their communities for the benefit of their citizens. With the support of Bayer CropScience, they will be able to make those plans a reality.”

All three towns have indicated specific community projects for the grant dollars.

Moultrie, Georgia

Moultrie plans to put the funds toward the completion of Moss Farms Aquatic Center, a state-of-the-art diving facility established by local cotton farmer Moose Moss.

“As a designated Cotton Town USA, Moultrie will host many opportunities to educate and showcase the unique ways cotton farming has inspired excellence in South Georgia,” writes Moultrie's nominator U.S. Senator Saxby Chambliss in the town's application.

Ropesville, Texas

The West Texas community of Ropesville will use its grant money to preserve and maintain the town's oldest historic building, as well as add handicapped accessibility to this community gathering place.

“This building is important to the community not only for its historical significance but also because it is the only available meeting place for civic and social events,” says Jerry Beth Shannon, Ropesville's nominator and retired librarian.

Somerville, Tennessee

Somerville proposes its grant be matched by town funds to contribute to the restoration of the historic Fair Theatre.

“We hope to make theater central to Somerville's surrounding towns, Fayette County's adjoining counties, and the metropolitan Memphis area,” writes Jamie Jenkins, county Extension agent, in his nomination for Somerville.

Cotton Town USA grants are available to towns that rely on cotton production as a cultural and economic cornerstone. Applicants are asked to complete a nomination form that includes demonstrating why theirs is a cotton town, and a short explanation of why their town should receive the award and what it would do with the grant money if their community was selected. Moultrie, Ropesville and Somerville were selected out of more than 70 applications received this year.

“Bayer CropScience recognizes these towns for representing the importance of cotton in our lives,” says Scott Johnson, insecticide business manager, Bayer CropScience. “We are proud to add value to cotton communities through the Cotton Town USA program.”

Cotton Town USA is part of Cotton Counts, a National Cotton Council consumer awareness campaign aimed at improving the understanding of and attitudes toward the U.S. cotton industry, and led by the National Cotton Women's Committee. Funds earned by the sale of Bayer CropScience products including Baythroid insecticide, FiberMax cotton seed, Finish 6 Pro harvest aid, Temik insecticide, Trimax insecticide and others help support the campaign and make Cotton Town USA grants possible.