Levee officials discuss challenges

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Representatives of three levee districts in southern Monroe County discussed challenges they are facing in preserving the integrity of their areas against flooding with the Monroe County Board on Monday.

Lynden Prange, Brian Edler and Mark Laurent of the Stringtown, Harrisonville and Fort de Chartres & Ivy drainage and levee districts, respectively, told commissioners the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which oversees river navigation and flood damage control, has agreed to approach flood damage reduction as a joint effort.

A major challenge facing all three is levee underseepage, which is the movement of water under the man-made levees. This becomes especially serious when flood levels are high on the river side of the levees. 

Underseepage is commonly managed by relief wells, which enable seeping water to rise to the surface where it can be collected and returned to the river, either during or after flooding recedes. 

Relief wells can deteriorate over time – some are 70-plus years old – and must be repaired or replaced. If water cannot be brought to the surface and returned to the river, a damaging result is known as sand boiling, which can eventually cause added flooding or even levee failure.

Other elements of the levee and drainage systems include pumps and flood gates.

Levees are evaluated or graded in terms of their ability to fend off a so-called 100-year or 500-year flood event. If a levee is deemed unable to meet the 100-year level of protection, flood insurance for property buildings can become prohibitively expensive or even unavailable – which in turn can cause the loss or calling in of mortgages.

The three levee officials updated commissioners on costs of refurbishing or replacing relief wells and talked about ways of paying for this critical work.  No specific requests for county financial support were made at the meeting, and representatives promised to keep commissioners apprised of developments.

Summertime and road work are synonymous.

Work on a section of HH Road between Moore and Gall Roads began Tuesday and will completely close traffic on HH Road at the old railroad crossing west of Waterloo for approximately two months, Monroe County Engineer Aaron Metzger said.

A contract was approved to perform structural engineering design work to rehabilitate the bridge on Old Route 156 at its crossing of a drainage canal at the west end of Valmeyer.  The design work will be performed by Oates Associates of Collinsville on a fixed-fee basis of $36,766.  Construction work will be conducted in 2022.

Commissioners approved a contract to realign a segment of Faust Road in Road District 4 and replace an aging bridge at the crossing of Horse Creek.  The low bid for the work was entered by Depew & Owen Builders of Centralia in the amount of $225,988.

Finally, work is slated to begin in mid-July to resurface approximately one mile of HH Road and one-fourth of a mile of Gall Road with hot mix asphalt.  The work is being carried out in Road District 6 by Christ Bros. Asphalt of Lebanon at a cost of $282,309.31.

Oak Hill Director Brian Koontz said Jennifer Morgan is being promoted to Assistant Director of Nursing; Randall Kasban is becoming Evergreen Pointe Director; Tammy Moll is assuming greater responsibilities and management tasks and Corinna Hipp is assuming additional nursing administrative duties.

Monroe County Clerk Jonathan McLean presented his review of voter precinct boundaries following the recent census.  He said final results of the 10-year federal census are not complete, but fortunately there are no elections that will require immediate redistribution of population figures until June 2022.  

Monroe County Clerk Jonathan McLean discusses changes to voter precincts across Monroe County in the wake of the 2020 census during Monday’s county board meeting. He noted the pushing back of the next Illinois primary to June 2022 gives the county time to make adjustments until final census data is available.

Therefore, McLean noted that precincts 22 and 23 near Maeystown can be adjusted without impacting candidates. He recommended waiting to make other moves countywide until final census figures can be received later this year. 

Monroe County Board Chairman Vicki Koerber noted that it appears the bulk of population growth recently has occurred in the north end of Waterloo and around Columbia.

Monroe County Health Department Administrator John Wagner told commissioners the COVID situation is much better in recent days. He said Monroe County is seeing only an average of one new positive test a day with no new hospitalizations in the last 10 days.  

He said the county is essentially reopened, and the state is announcing a full reopening this Friday. He also said COVID vaccinations are offered at the health department office and area pharmacies, with choices of vaccines most people want.

He said he saw no reasons for schools not to reopen fully this fall.

Six resolutions of reappointment were approved by the commissioners: Ronald Stumpf of Columbia to the Fountain Water District for five years; Ellen Gates of Waterloo for three years to the Monroe County Board of Health; Aaron Metzger of Waterloo for three years to the Monroe County Flood Prevention District; Dr. Michael Kirk of Waterloo for two years to the Monroe County Board of Health; Don Gergen of Edwardsville to the Palmier Hill Cemetery Board for three years; and Metzger to the Southwestern Illinois Metropolitan and Regional Planning Commission for one year.

The Monroe County Board will next meet in regular session 8:15 a.m. Monday, June 21, at the courthouse.

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