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We need leaders that listen, lead, and follow through

If you’ve lived in the valley for a while, it’s hard to forget the devastation caused by the storms that hit our region in 1998. Violent winds downed trees and powerlines, and torrential rains caused flooding that most residents in the area had not experienced in their lifetime. The flooding was especially bad along Duck Creek. When the water subsided, five residents had lost their lives and the damage to property was estimated at $20 million. Many knew a flood was imminent, but few realized just how bad it was going to be. This event led to a push by residents and local officials to get gauges installed on Duck Creek that could warn of dangerous flooding events and hopefully save lives and property. Since Duck Creek enters the Ohio River in Marietta, the data could assist with flood warnings at Marietta as well.

It took several years for the new system to take shape. I became involved in 2010 when I took over leadership of a small watershed group composed of locals that lived along Duck Creek, as well as officials from Noble and Washington County. The group served as a good place for collaboration between locals, county officials and federal agencies that were involved in the project. That’s when I met Washington County Commissioner Cora Marshall. When Cora was elected in 2009, she made the completion of the warning system a top priority. After a study by the US Army Corp of Engineers (USACE) in 2005, a coalition had taken shape between residents, county officials, state officials, the USACE, and the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District (MWCD). Cora had taken the lead for Washington County. She regularly attended our meetings and gave updates on the project from the county’s perspective. She also used the meetings as an opportunity to get public input as the project progressed. It was easy to see that Cora cared deeply about the project and she became one of my most important contacts when I needed more information on the project.

An agreement was signed in January 2011 for the construction of the project and the new gauges were installed later that year. The gauges can provide up to 48 hours of advanced warning for dangerous flooding. Cora Marshall played an important role in completion of the project and the way she collaborated with other officials and gathered public input are qualities that have been sorely lacking in the Commissioner’s office in recent years. In the upcoming election we have a chance to have that kind of leadership again. I will be voting for Cora and I encourage you to also.

Matt Halfhill

Whipple

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