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Floodwall review has steep price

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Cannelton, other cities ask Hill's office for help

By Kevin Koelling, Managing Editor

CANNELTON - Cracks have been repaired in the floodwall at Cannelton, the city's floodwall custodian reported during a regular meeting of the board of public works and safety Aug. 10, but a costly inspection is required, if someone can be found to support it.

Jerry Ball, better known as sewer-department superintendent for the city, reminded the board, as he explained in February, that the Federal Emergency Management Agency wants the floodwall to be accredited.

A required inspection will cost $210,000, then the city will have to pay to fix any problems it reveals, "plus we'll have to get another federal agency to come up with 10 percent," Ball said, "even if we've got the $210,000 in our pocket."

He explained the Army Corps of Engineers is the only entity that can do the work because no other engineering firm wants to be held responsible if they accredit a floodwall and it fails. Additionally, the Corps won't do it at the city's request; another federal agency has to request the work and put up 10 percent of the cost.

Cities in Ohio and Kentucky convinced the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to back their request, Ball said. He was unable to explain any connection between HUD and floodwalls.  

"That's just the red tape you've got to go through."

Reaccreditation will be required every 10 years, Clerk-Treasurer Arvina Bozarth said.

"Ten years from now, it might be $500,000," Ball speculated.

Mayor Smokey Graves said Cannelton and Tell City joined together in seeking help from Rep. Baron Hill's office, but he hadn't heard a reply.

"Piggybacking together may make for an easier solution than us going it alone," he said.

The crack repairs were accomplished by the F.E. Gates Co. of Indianapolis for $16,425, an amount that was cut approximately in half through some research, Graves said. The state's Department of Natural Resources was providing a loan to cover the bill, he added.

Ball said city officials have to provide a report to FEMA by the end of the year explaining the steps they've taken.

Ball also reported he'd completed a mosquito-spraying the previous week and intended to do more.

"It's the time of year when the mosquitoes are really getting bad," he said, adding  that West Nile virus "builds up in these birds the further into the year you get, and the best chances of somebody coming down with it are in August, September and October."

In other business, acting Police Chief Eric Dickenson told board members the city did not receive a U.S. Justice Department grant that he'd hoped would fund another police officer. None of the several police agencies in Perry County succeeded in securing funding from the department's Community Oriented Policing Services program expanded with stimulus money, he added. He hopes to hear results of an application to the state's Criminal Justice Institute by October.

In a common-council meeting the same day, Councilman John Young III asked whether an estimated cost had been obtained for riprap needed to shore up the riverbank at the city's boat ramp. Graves said last month the river level would need to drop before any work could be done. Ball said at this month's meeting he'd never seen it remain as high as it is into August.

The maintenance of "bump-outs," areas where curbing is extended along Washington Street to accommodate flowerbeds, has been lacking in some cases, Councilwoman Lynn Fulkerson said.

"We need to have a plan for taking care of them," she suggested of bump-outs not maintained by nearby businesses, "maybe someone to take a look at them every other week."

The bump-outs used to be rented by businesses or other organizations, in effect paying for the privilege of planting and tending flowers and keeping them tidy.

"I know several people who wouldn't pay a fee, but like to do that sort of thing," Street Commissioner Charlie Davis offered.

"There needs to be a plan in place to take care of them all year long," Fulkerson said, noting city officials send letters and charge fines for people who let their grass get too tall, "and the city wasn't taking care of its property."