Wednesday, March 20, 2013


UPDATED:  08:45 AM


Stark Commissioners
Chomping at the Bit for Ditch Repair?

(a must see video for any citizen, mayor, township trustee or city councilperson who has an interest in solving Stark chronic flooding problem)


Isn't $350,000 Way Short of What is Doable? 

Where are Township Trustees of
Canton Township
Jackson Township
Lake Township
Nimishillen Township
Perry Township
Plain Township

in Pressing Commissioners to Find More Funds?

Where are Mayors Held (North Canton), Fallot (Louisville)
North Canton/Louisville, 
City Councilpersons
in Pressing Commissioners
 for More Ditch Fundng?
Want another example of the consequences to you and your neighbors for the State of Ohio having cut millions of dollars (net of any new revenue sources) from local government funding?

How about the rampant flooding problem which exists throughout Stark County because local governments do not have the funds to keep up with keeping Stark's drainage waterways clear and for providing adequate reservoirs/dams to retain water when once in a hundred years, once in 50 years flood hits?

Notwithstanding the dearth of funds in part contributed to by the State of Ohio's withdrawal of local government funding, the Stark County commissioners seem to be intently serious about their commitment to county voters to do everything they can do (in light of the passage of a 0.5% sales tax in November, 2011) to work towards controlling the county's persistent, year-in, year-out, flooding problem.

Yesterday they held a meeting (a work session) with the Stark County engineering staff:
  • Keith Bennett, the elected on his own Stark County engineer (i.e. not controlled by the commissioners), 
  • Gary Connor, the county's hydraulics engineer, 
  • Dave Torrence, Bennett's chief assistant, and 
  • Joe Underwood, Stark County's subdivision engineer
During the session, the commissioners made it abundantly clear that they wanted action and they want action now!

And the engineers seemed to respond.  However, as noted by Engineer Bennett (see video below) the engineer's office is downsizing and therefor the office's ability to response is lesser than it has been in the past.

The Report focuses on this this reality for the benefit of those who say they are for less government.  All well and good, but these folks then much accept on their square inches of personal interest to get their problems solved by government to accept delays without complaint.

At the meeting, Bennett:  "Once we heard that you [the commissioners] set aside $350,000 we began to get a plan together."

A plan?


There are some short term projects (18 of what Engineer Connor said was a few of the hundreds upon hundreds that actually exist) that the engineers are working on to lessen the impact of flooding.

There are long term projects (four) which will be a least a year or two before anything is done on them and on which it will be years and years in their full realization.

The list as presented yesterday:

While $350,000 is a far cry from the $1 million that Bernabei said he thought would be available if a levy passed (which the SCPR scoffed at the time he was making the claim) it is more than the commissioners have put in ditch repair and rehab in many a moon.  In 2011 the commissioners set aside $100,000 and in 2010 a mere $54,000 spent ($0 originally allocated).

$350,000 is a mere drop in the bucket.  Even $1 million is but a trickle.  For to do the job properly, it will take tens of millions of dollars and years if flooding of Stark County's homes and business is to become manageable.

In 1997 Stark County, Jackson Township and North Canton came together to fund a study which came to be known as the Zimber Ditch Study (LINK).

In order to approximate control of Stark County flooding in Stark main flooding-prone are, here is what the study recommended:

And, of course, what is recommended for Zimber is also what needs to be done to do (on a year-in, year-out basis) with Stark's other flood prone areas.

Probably the most unpleasant aspect of being a Stark County commissioner these days is the constant barrage of complaints they receive from Stark Countians about the flooding and cave-ins they are experiencing on a continuing basis.

When they get out into the community (e.g. Perry Township [June 15, 2011; LINK to prior SCPR blog] and North Canton [June 11, 2012; LINK to prior SCPR blog] to the exchange between citizens can get ugly.

What came through yesterday was that the commissioners want answers and they want action to share with Perryites, North Cantonians and the numerous other Stark Countians who will once again will likely be subjected to flooding when the inevitable summer cloudbursts let loose come June, July and August.

Yours truly has gone through the nearly one hour long videotape that The Report took of yesterday's work session to give SCPR readers a sense of the urgency (see video below) which the commissioners are pressing on the engineers to come up with solutions.

Stark Countians should be heartened by the commissioners seizing the initiative and getting going on tackling the problem in the first place.

The SCPR challenges the commissioners to work harder beginning with the 2014 budget to come up with at least $1 million a year as Commissioner Bernabei, a couple years ago, projected to the SCPR as being a number the commissioners would have available if the November, 2011 levy were to pass.

Well, it did and it is now time for the commissioners to produce.  No more excuses!

The commissioners are often heard to say they do not have control of this or that situation so as to effect a solution.  An example of which was the recent flap between the commissioners and Vassar Park residents over the failure of the Stark County jail to be used to its 501 bed capacity nearly a year and one half after the levy passed.

In the jail instance, the commissioners have a point.  However, they can and they did apply pressure on the sheriff to come up with a specific plan to get to full utilization.

On the flooding issue, one thing the commissioners can do is to squeeze $1 million a year to do flood control measures.

But it will require sitting on the likes of Prosecutor John Ferrero and Rick Campbell and others who get county general fund monies in their apparent effort to squeeze every dollar out of the county budget for their turfs.

Unfortunately, there is no one in Stark County government to lobby for the citizens who have their homes and business flooded year after year after year.

Accordingly, the SCPR posits that it is the responsibility of the commissioners to push back on those county officeholders who want to take all the county general fund revenues for themselves.

And what about the trustees from Stark County's urban townships which experience the bulk of the flooding because water run off due to the residential, business and industrial development in those communities.

Why are not the Canton Local, Jackson, Lake, Nimishillen, Perry and Plain Township trustees and the North Canton and Louisville mayors (city council members) beating down the doors of the commissioners demanding at least a $1 million set aside for flood control?

A very positive note coming out of the March 19th meeting is that it is just the beginning of the commissioners digging into resolving Stark's flooding problem.

They left it with Engineer Bennett yesterday that they would meet with him again in about 30 days in a work session in a continuing plan whereby commissioners will closely monitor progress being made in dealing with infrastructure problems that contribute to flooding in the county.

It behooves all Stark County city and township officials who have major problems within their boundaries to be sending representatives to these meetings.

Moreover, they need to put their money where there mouth is.  Plain and Jackson (as described by Bennett in the video) have put $150,000 in on a joint project being worked by the county engineers.

The video.

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