During a brief meeting Thursday, Hancock County commissioners authorized payment of about $812,078 to Helms and Sons Excavation/Construction, Findlay, for work done on the “benching” project along the north bank of the Blanchard River, west of the Norfolk Southern railroad bridge.

The company was awarded the bid of about $6.1 million for the work which involves cutting into the banks and removing the material so water has more room to flow away from the river before rising. The construction is designed to reduce downtown flooding during heavy rains.

Maumee Watershed Conservancy District oversees the project, but the commissioners have to sign off on payments since the flood reduction account, funded with county voter-approved sales tax money, covers the cost.

The 10-year tax expired at year-end 2018, but the commissioners approved a half-percent sales tax continuation to fund various projects. As a result, the countywide sales tax remains at 6.75 percent, with the county receiving 1 percent and the state receiving the remainder.

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