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Washington Commissioner's President Ask For Help With Levee Costs
Updated May 5, 2013 1:06 AM | Filed under: WBIW News
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(WASHINGTON) - At Washington County Council meeting, Comissioner's President Tony Wichman came before the council to speak about maintenance expenses for the Bennington Levee.

(WASHINGTON) - At Washington County Council meeting, Comissioner's President Tony Wichman came before the council to speak about maintenance expenses for the Bennington Levee.

According to Jason Tiller of the Washington Times- Herald, Wichman saays according to state law, the county has to pay the bills for the levee board when they run out of money. He commented that the law was made in 1941 or 1945, but it was still the law.

Levee board member Tom Graham said that the levee board is having cash flow problems due to the pending suit against Donald Villwock, Randall Bowman and Shepherd Construction LLC.

The suit alleges that in Dec. 2010 or Jan. 2011, excavation of a one-mile long ditch took place on tracts of land either owned or managed by Villwock and Bowman.

The ditch was constructed on the protected side of the levee near the base causing deprivation of lateral support. This resulted in a breach that flooded a large area west of the levee in Washington.

On March 13, 2011 a control breach was constructed to allow the flood water to return to the White River. The estimated cost for repairs to the levee are between $1.1 million and $2.5 million not including property damage.

The suit also alleges that the parties involved failed to obtain a flood plain development permit prior to the work in violation of county law, failed to obtain a reasonable engineering analysis or study before the work began and failed to have an engineer supervise the work.

The suit is seeking the costs for repair and also determination of which repairs the Army Corps of Engineers require were caused by the defendants.

Because the Corps of Engineers placed the levee on inactive status in Jan. 2007, the levee board is not eligible for Corps funding, making the county responsible for the repairs.

Graham said all of the levee board's money is tied up in the lawsuit.

He said that the county is legally responsible, but any money that the county gave them would be repaid if the lawsuit is won. Some council members were uneasy with this.

A specific amount was not mentioned, but Graham said that the funds would have to be used for any bills that the levee board may incur and that payback depends on the litigation.

According to Graham, the levee board intends to advertise bids soon for work that needs to be done, but nothing can actually be done until after the lawsuit is over because the National Resource Conservation Service would not refund any of their contracts if they were to win and start work before the case is closed.

Graham also said that the council would not be looking at major construction until late summer or early fall.

Wichman told the council the commissioners approved the pay out of $25,000 from the Riverboat Fund to help the levee board with general maintainence costs. The Council approved the transfer of the funds from the Riverboat Fund to the Bennington Levee Fund so the levee board will be able to use the money.

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