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FEMA approval of disaster plan may meet need
CANNELTON - Cannelton officials have 60 days to come up with a plan to repair that city's section of the floodwall, then a year to complete the work, Floodwall Custodian Jerry Ball reported at a public-works-board meeting Monday.
A plan may already exist that will satisfy the Army Corps of Engineers officials making the demand, Clerk-Treasurer Mary Snyder said.
Known mainly for his role as the city's sanitation supervisor, Ball is also responsible for the floodwall, and has reported at past works-board and council meetings on its condition. His latest report included information about an inspection conducted Aug. 16 by the Corps.
Ball said Wednesday he found four cracks in the wall two years ago. He was advised to seal them to prevent water from entering, freezing and expanding. Three cracks are about a foot long and the fourth is 12 feet long, going about halfway down the land side of the wall, he said, but, "the river side is fine" and the repair would replace a section of concrete on that side only.
He's not worried the cracks will put anyone in danger, noting that in the 1997 flood, water didn't reach high enough on the wall to touch the bottom of any of them. But the Corps wants them fixed.
Plan in the Works
Clerk-Treasurer Mary Snyder told works-board members repairs to the floodwall are included in a disaster-mitigation plan in the approval stage at the Federal Emergency Management Agency. A Nov. 1 e-mail message she provided from Lisa Gehlhausen, executive director of the Indiana 15 Regional Planning Commission, notes Perry County, Tell City, Troy and Cannelton adopted the plan last year, which listed the floodwall repairs as a priority.
"We needed to do some amendments to the plan," Gehlhausen said Tuesday. "We've done that and submitted them to FEMA for approval."
Cost estimates for work identified in the plan have to be obtained, she said, and a grant application must be submitted in January. Announcements of who gets funding under a Hazard Mitigation Grant Program won't come until the following fall, she said. It would provide 75 percent of the repair costs, and the city would be responsible for the remainder. The program has funded items such as weather-alert radios, mobile-home tie-down straps and inertia valves that turn off gas flows when shaken by earthquakes. "It can be anything small or a $3 million project," Gehlhausen said. She added the grants are very competitive, however. "Eight projects were submitted from Indiana last year, but only one was approved."
Ball told the public-works board the Bernardin, Lochmueller and Associates engineering firm was asked to examine the wall. On a motion from board member Dale Duke, the board opted to ask the company to provide a proposal and cost estimate.
Senator Could Help
Mayor Melvin McBrayer said he contacted Sen. Richard Lugar's Evansville office, and learned money might be available to help make the repairs. Board member Lynn Fulkerson asked that a letter be sent to the Corps informing them the city is working on the problem and requesting an extension of the deadline.
Ball told the board the Corps also identified some utility poles on the levy they said must be removed.
"They've been up there since before I was born," he said. "The utility department set some new ones next to them in the last couple of years, and now, all of a sudden, they're not supposed to be on the levy. I talked to the utility department; they're not too happy."
Utilities Superintendent Phillip Ball said Wednesday no one from the Corps had contacted him about the poles, and they've never been identified as a problem in the past.
A Corps spokesman said he would consider any request the city makes.
Little Work, Big Bill
A report that resulted from the latest Corps inspection is "thick, but there's not too much we have to do," Jerry Ball told the works board. "But in what there is, some of it is expensive."
"Some of it is questionable," he continued, explaining a lack of grass on the levy under the bridge was identified as a problem. Ball wasn't sure why grass doesn't grow there, but suggested salt coming off of the road overhead may be the reason. "We may have to put sod on it," he said.
Two pumps have to be rebuilt, he added, but that cost can't be estimated until they can be taken to a shop. Lugar's representative "acted like that's something we really need to take care of," the mayor said.
The Corps' short-deadline demands come on the heels of an election that will seat a new mayor and four new council members at the first of the year. "You don't want this administration to tie the next one down," Ball noted.
In other business, the board authorized Police Chief Kenny Kellems to close James Street between Fourth and Fifth streets between 7 and 8:30 p.m. Nov. 23 to sell coffee, hot chocolate and chili as a fund-raiser coinciding with the city's Christmas parade.
Also, McBrayer said two water fountains at the city's community center were out of service and their manufacturer had gone out of business. Snyder said a fund created when the center as built may be tapped to replace them. Board members voted to seek estimates.
Party Place for Rent
McBrayer said a restriction on renting the community center expired Nov. 1, and "we have to have some kind of income on that building to keep it maintained." He asked the board to bring suggestions on rental charges to their next meeting, scheduled for 6 p.m. Dec. 18. City attorney Bill Shaneyfelt said he'd schedule a meeting with the board of directors for the community center, who might have funds to replace the coolers.
Also to be discussed Dec. 18 is a request from the Covered Wagon's Jesse Clem to restrict parking in the area of that dance venue. Clem sent him pictures of eight to 10 other areas in the city where parking is prohibited, Shaneyfelt said. "This could impact other businesses. He should attend, as should anyone else with concerns," he suggested. The issue may be continued into the new year, so the new administration can weigh in.