Centre officials discuss successful flood repairs

PHOTOS PROVIDED These before-and-after photos show flood repair and prevention work done at Howard.

BELLEFONTE — It has been less than a year since last October’s severe storm flooded parts of Centre County, and now, 10 affected landowners’ properties have been repaired.

After parts of the Bald Eagle Valley and Coleville areas were affected by the flooding that took place on Oct. 21, 2016, the county commissioners and the county conservation district requested federal assistance to repair damaged properties. Back in March, the county submitted a federal grant application request to the Emergency Watershed Protection program, which is run through the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service.

The total project cost was $203,995, and the county was ultimately awarded $187,000 in funding, with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection funding the remaining 25 percent.

During the Oct. 10 meeting of the Centre County Board of Commissioners, Bob Sweitzer, manager of the county conservation district, discussed the completion of the projects, which helped out 10 eligible landowners in Coleville, Julian and Howard with rehabilitation, stream bank stabilization and sediment deposition. The program was created to address erosion and flooding concerns regarding streams that impact homes and businesses located within 50 feet of such streams.

The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service evaluated more than 30 sites to determine funding eligibility, and originally, it was thought that only five landowners were eligible, Sweitzer said. Five additional impacted homes were discovered to be eligible for the funding.

PHOTOS PROVIDED These before-and-after photos show flood repair and prevention work done at Howard.

In early June, the county did a request for bids and awarded all of the projects to Steven Krieger Excavating of Saxton, Pa. The company’s bids totaled $187,800.

Work on the first impacted property began on July 17, Sweitzer said. Final site inspections were completed on Aug. 4. In addition, the landowners signed an agreement to provide operation and maintenance for the projects to their property for a period of 10 years.

“I would like to thank the legislators, the townships, the governor, for all their help and assistance, and hopefully, if we have weather like this again, we won’t have damage quite as bad,” said Commissioner Mark Higgins.

In other business, the commissioners declared the month of October as “Domestic Violence Awareness Month.”

According to Dawn McKee of the Centre County Women’s Resource Center, the center is hoping to make its awareness more widespread this year. Typically, there is an awareness event held on the lawn of the Centre County Courthouse, but this year, a travelling exhibit was created.

This wall, McKee said, shares stories of local individuals who were killed as a result of domestic violence. The wall, called “The Empty Place at the Table,” features a place setting for each victim, with a story behind the place setting. There are 13 to represent known victims, and one for unknown victims.

“It remembers the people in our community who were killed as a result of domestic violence, but it also talks about things that we can do as a community to increase safety for victims and hold offenders accountable,” McKee said.

Throughout the month, the exhibit will travel to the county’s four YMCAs and to the Penn State campus, McKee said. Last week, the exhibit was at the Moshannon Valley location, and it is currently at the State College location. Next Sunday, the exhibit will be moved to the Bellefonte YMCA, and it will be at the Penns Valley YMCA the following week.

For more information about the CCWRC and how to help in the community, visit www.ccwrc.org.