We didn’t learn anything new this week about the Blanchard River flooding problem.
We already knew, for example, endangered mussels can’t be moved without first jumping through government hoops, that river-cleaning is going slower than we’d like, and that the Army Corps of Engineers’ river study is still a work in progress.
But two developments that took place were nevertheless interesting.
On Tuesday, Eagle Township Trustee David Bower and Cass Township Trustee Jerry Wolford presented a petition to the Hancock County commissioners containing signatures of trustees from nine of 17 townships in the county.
The petition urged the commissioners to conduct a more thorough cleaning of the river than one that has begun in Putnam County and is moving upstream. It is expected to reach Hancock County by June.
Both Bower and Wolford are critical of the plan being developed by the corps, and said the commissioners should dredge the river despite certain Environmental Protection Agency rules that would have to be followed first, including ones involving mussels.
Now jump to the next commissioner’s meeting, on Thursday, when Findlay Mayor Lydia Mihalik and Kathy Kreuchauf, president of the Findlay-Hancock County Community Foundation, encouraged the commissioners not to waver in their commitment to flood-control efforts.
Kreuchauf admitted river cleaning is important, but won’t have much impact on flooding. Dredging, without EPA approval, would be illegal and she told the commissioners a more complete solution should remain the goal.
Mihalik, meanwhile, urged the commissioners not to “play politics” with the lives of those who live in the watershed.
Politics, of course, became part of the flood-control conversation long ago, but it is more front and center as of late.
The exchanges at the two commissioner meetings likely would not have taken place if there wasn’t a Republican primary election Tuesday for county commissioner.
The race between Commissioner Phil Riegle and farmer Steve Oman, a former county commissioner, has focused more on the flood-control issue than all other issues combined.
And rightly so. Flooding is a critical issue for everyone who lives in this area, even if floodwaters have never reached them.
Oman has run on a clean-the-river-first platform. Riegle, who says river cleaning may help but is not the cure-all to end-all, is in the stay-the-course camp.
Both positions have merit, and arguments can be made for either. It’s appropriate that voters get to make the call, but unfortunate that only those who vote a Republican ticket will get to weigh in.
The primary isn’t our final test when it comes to flood control, certainly, but the result will help the debate.
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