Flood's wake leaves county roads a mess

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By Jimmie Earls

In the wake of last week’s massive flooding, several roads throughout Washington County have sustained severe damage, and are in need of emergency repair. At Monday’s meeting of the Washington County Fiscal Court, road department supervisor Albert Wimsatt reported that his crews have been working to clean up the debris while inspectors from FEMA are expected to arrive this week to assess the damage.

“They have roads all over the county that have cracked open,” Wimsatt said. “We have a whole lot of damage in the county. Newby Lane was washed out at the bridge and it washed out over the tile. I took the high-lift and got a lot of it back up on the road, but we still had to haul away a lot of it. It’s just been everywhere. We even have roads, like Valley Hill Road, where the water washed the blacktop off of it in sections. Hardesty Road has a bad crack and is separating, and we had a really bad slide on Haydon Brothers Road.”

Kevin Devine, director of the Washington County Office of Emergency Management, said representatives from FEMA would be here this week to survey the damage, and they cold possibly set up a temporary office in the old circuit clerk’s office in the old courthouse annex to assist people with claims.

Washington County Judge-Executive John Settles urged all magistrates to turn in a list of affected roads, especially since the county has been declared to be in a state of emergency.

“If you do have any other wash-outs, stopped up tile, anything – please turn them in because we need a complete list, not only to get them corrected, but if there is any damage, we have been documenting it with pictures, and we’re going to see what we can get reimbursed from FEMA.”

Several magistrates expressed concerns about roads in their respective districts. Morris Sweazy said as many as 100 people on Tick Creek Road were blocked in during the high water.

“We talk about this money that’s going to be appropriated for these roads that get flooded, and possibly raise them up. I’d just like to know if it’s possible,” Sweazy said. “I know last Sunday, nobody could get out of there, and on Monday, there was a guy who had a heart problem. If that had happened on Sunday, they couldn’t have gone in there and got him. It affects 100 people, at least.”

“That’s the first time I’ve ever known it to get that bad on Tick Creek,” said Wimsatt. “They talk about raising the roads, but I don’t care how much you raise a road, when water gets that heavy, it’s still going to go over it. It was just one of those flash floods that may never happen again in 50 years.”

Hal Goode mentioned a problem of water backing up on Humes Lane, and Benjamin Settles said a four-inch crack, between 40 and 50 feet long, has formed on Coulter Lane, caused by slippage from the flood waters.

Wimsatt said that while crews have already started the cleanup process, he will have to wait to see what FEMA will and will not do before they can make full repairs.

“As soon as we get the OK, or they give us the money to do it, we will get right on it,” Wimsatt added. “We’re looking at probably three months to get everything back in shape like it was.”

In other business

The court had the first reading of the county’s 2010-11 fiscal year budget. The total budgeted appropriations for the coming fiscal year are $5,398,662, which includes $3,382,820 for the general fund; $1,520,342 for the road fund; $365,300 for the jail fund; $120,100 for the Local Government Economic Assistance fund; and $10,100 for the Communicare Community Development Block Grant fund.

“If approved, then this will be sent in to the state local finance officer for their approval, and then it will be sent back to us, and hopefully by the next court meeting we can have the second reading,” said Judge Settles.

Magistrate Terry Tingle made a motion to approve the first reading of the budget, with a second by magistrate Settles. The court voted unanimously to approve.

Solid waste coordinator George Ann Palmer announced that she is working on a grant from the USDA by which the Washington County Regional Recycling Center would become a training site, providing on-the-job training and experience for members of Isaiah House and inmates at the Marion County Detention Center.

“Our goal would be to train these guys to be gainfully employed after they are released,” said Palmer. “They can be trained to work for waste management companies, be an inventory clerk, fork lift operator, construction worker or work on a loading dock. We would like to have 18 participants for six months, and during those six months, they would rotate to different skills in six-week increments. I haven’t been able to find another project like this anywhere, locally anyway, so this is a pilot project.”

The grant is available for either a one-year or two-year term. The one-year grant would only give the county a three-month assessment of how the project is going before the county can petition the state for more funds. The two-year grant would give the county more detailed data to give to the state.

“This all came about basically because we were trying to guarantee that we would have inmate labor,” added Judge Settles. “This also gives something back to those individuals, so that they will have some training once they leave Isaiah House or their jail sentence has ended. Some already have skills that are usable and marketable, but others don’t.”

Sweazy made a motion to allow the county to apply for the grant for two-years, with a second by Goode. The court voted unanimously to approve the application.

The court approved a motion to allow the Washington County Historical Society to use office space in the courthouse annex. The move would allow the society to have a central location for historical documents, photos and other items.

The court made a $1,250 contribution to the Little League program at Idle Hour Park.

Bob Osbourne was appointed to the Washington County Extension Board to serve out the term of the late Bill Logsdon. The term will end in December.