The Clay County Commissioners are getting their ducks in a row.
They conducted an emergency special session Friday morning to set up more repair work on area levees, bridges and culverts.
"The abnormal amount of rain received obviously caused a lot of damage," Doris Scully, Clay County District Conservationist for the United States Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), said. "Because of the results of the flood, the county is eligible to receive emergency watershed damage monies."
There has been substantial damage to two levees in Clay County. The first is located just south of the Country Junction near the intersection of State Roads 59 and 46, and is controlled by the Erie Canal Levee Association, Clay City, while the second is along the Eel River, between Clay City and Howesville, and is controlled by the Guirl Ditch Association.
To complete repairs, Clay County will act as a fiscal agent for the two associations because they are not government entities. The associations will have to provide 25 percent of the total cost of each project, while the county will have to front the other 75 percent. However, any monies the county provides in these two projects will be reimbursed due to the projects being labeled as emergency situations.
There are also two culverts along the Cory-Staunton Road that were washed out during the floods. They have since been replaced, but there are additional projects in the works to make the areas stronger to prevent them from being washed out again.
"We will be solidifying the areas with riprap, which is rock used to armor areas to prevent erosion and protect them from falling apart again," Scully said.
The commissioners also opened quotes to retrieve Bridge 248, which fell into the Erie Canal, between CR 1200 S and 1300 S.
Two quotes were received, and a third was requested but was not able to be provided in the timetable available. BLS Contractors, Bowling Green, had the lowest quote at $54,750, which was approved, while L & B Construction, Brazil, provided a quote of $60,500.
For the work on the culverts and retrieval of the bridge, the county will have to pay the entire cost and will receive 75 percent back in reimbursements.
All of the work that was approved had a label of being an emergency situation.
However that label, plus the county's financial situation, has created a small hitch in the process.
The NRCS has a deadline that once a project is approved, work must begin within 10 days to maintain the potential for reimbursements.
"The money we have available for the work is in the Cumulative Bridge Fund and has to be appropriated accordingly," Clay County Auditor Mary Jo Alumbaugh said. "To do that, the County Council has to approve them."
To put the appropriation request on the council's agenda, the county must publish a notice of the item a minimum of 10 days in advance. So, the commissioners, Alumbaugh and County Council President Mike McCullough contacted the State Board of Accounts for guidance because, with the notice also having to be sent to the Clay City News, which is published once a week, they had to ensure they would be able to make the change to the agenda legally, according to Indiana law.
They did receive the approval of the State Board of Accounts to publish the agenda change notice for the July 7 council meeting. While all of the estimated engineering and construction costs have not yet been determined, an inflated estimation of the appropriation will be published because the amount can later be reduced, but not increased. The public notice appeared in today's edition of The Brazil Times.
"It gives us a bit of a safety net to work with so we don't have to delay anything further to go back and add more later," McCullough said.
The commissioners, to whom Scully was appreciative for their efforts, approved all of the work.
"The commissioners and the Clay County Sheriff's Department have been very cooperative and have helped us greatly," Scully said. "They provided maps and all the information we needed to quickly figure out the greatest places of need."