At Monday's regular meeting of Clay County Commissioners, there was standing room only when they approved the first reading of the proposed National Flood Insurance Program.
The commissioners and Geri Husband, Clay County Emergency Management director, had urged the public to attend to learn the benefits of participation in NFIP.
Husband gave a quick overview of the voluntary NFIP, stating in 1993 Brazil city opted to in the program but the county did not.
"We're very limited for federal assistance. People living in the flood plains can't make significant improvements to their property, refinance or sell their homes because federal lending institutions require flood insurance. But they can't get it on their own," she said.
The commissioners invited Jack Knust, local Farm Bureau president, and Greg Main, state NFIP coordinator of the flood plain management section of the Indiana Department of Natural Resources Division of Water.
"The Eel River bottoms area (in the flood plains) is the farming bread basket of the county. I think it would add to the county's tax base if we were to participate in the National Flood Insurance Program," Knust said.
The last flood plain maps were created in 1976 and were very rough drafts.
"NFIP will do a typical modeling on case-by-case basis at a cost between $8,000 to $10,000. But NFIP would provide free of charge more detailed maps if the county would participate in the program," Main said.
Bill Neal, a resident from the southern part of the county, said he was concerned about land management restrictions for farmers. He said NFIP has hidden downsides and thought the public ought to be able to give input about joining the program.
"Last year we came within two inches of flooding in this county and without national flood insurance, homeowners wouldn't have been eligible for federal disaster relief. I don't know of anything that's been hidden or could possibly be bad about this program," Commissioner Daryl Andrews said.
He said as far as public input goes, that's why the commissioners had several meetings about this and invited the public to attend. He reminded Neal that even if the first reading passed, there would still be a second reading at next month's regular meeting that would give the public another chance to speak about NFIP.
The commissioners appointed Clay County Emergency Management to oversee the program. They also added a $25-per-day fine up to a maximum of $1,000 for violations of anyone participating in the program that doesn't build at the two-feet above flood plain requirement.
In other business:
- Larry Wallace, representing Wallace Bros., Inc. (waste disposal services) presented a proposal for trash removal from Clay County Courthouse, jail and airport. The commissioners said they were not under any obligation to Jamax Corp. but they wanted to check prices and services and postponed action until the next meeting.
- Ron Chamberlain, Clay County Highway Department, reported on work done the past month by his crews. He said they dug up portions of Airport Road to fix soft spots. He said heavy trucks for the Knightsville sewer project were overloaded and had done severe damage to the road. Commissioners said he should check the permits to find out weight limits. Roads throughout the county are being patched and Andrews thanked him for the attention given to roads in the southern end of the county. Chamberlain reported Bridge 310 concrete was poured, pilings driven and rebar set.
- Husband said local emergency management received a $15,902 state grant for planning services. She said it also received a $2,200 grant from Clay County Community Foundation to purchase a lap-top computer and projector for in-house training to be used throughout the county by any organization involved in emergency, fire safety or law enforcement.
- Approval was given for a $4,500 contract to Maximus, a cost allocation company that provides indirect cost recovery from government services. This same business has worked for the county for 15 years and averages over $25,500 in funds recovered for Clay County. Fees are based on census population.
- Clay County Soil and Water Conservation District reviewed two of five applications for a new technical assistant. The job was offered to a man who still had another interview and wanted to wait until the end of the week to decide. If he chooses not to accept, SWCD will start over the search.
- Clay County Superior Court Judge J. Blaine Akers made a written request to Commissioner President David Parr asking for a decision on the renovation of the former health department space which would be his new office and the jury room which would house Phoenix Community Corrections. After both parties contributing $8,500, an additional $23,200 is needed for the remodeling project.