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County, cities eligible for FEMA funds

By Jamie Baker-Nantz

The remnants of Grant County’s January ice storms littered yards and roadsides far after the ice melted, but reimbursement from the Federal Emergency Management Agency will ease the memories.

Judge-Executive Darrell Link declared an emergency in Grant County after heavy snowfall and ice left many residents without electricity for days, which means the fiscal court and cities are eligible for federal aid.

Paul Antone, a public assistance coordinator with FEMA, came to Grant County and assisted the county and cities in their reimbursement applications.

The federal grant reimburses counties and cities up to 75 percent of the costs they incurred from the storm. These funds can be used for debris clearance, protective measures such as equipment or materials purchases and for public buildings that might have been damaged from the storms.

The county turned in a request for $116,508.

“This is based upon the expenses we incurred,” Link said.

The county’s dollar figure also includes Corinth and Crittenden because the county road department is responsible for snow removal in those cities.

“That’s a decision that occurred several years ago when we approached those two cities about taking over snow removal for them in exchange for their state road aid funds,” Link said. “It was the right thing to do for them because we had a road department and this could save them some money.”

“The county isn’t getting a return for this, but the taxpayers are,” Link added. “It’s a wonderful deal because they’re getting a needed service at a reduced cost and if they’d compared the cost if they contracted it out, they’d see they are getting a bargain.”

Because of the amount of snowfall the area received, Link said the county purchased two new snow plows as a protective measure and will be reimbursed for them through FEMA.

Williamstown requested $96,285, while Dry Ridge asked for $17,144.

Williamstown utilized its three employees in the electric department, three from the cable department and four crews from Ohio to restore power to its customers after ice on tree limbs caused them to break and fall on the lines leaving many without power,

City and county employees assisted residents with limb removal by collecting all tree limbs that were bundled and left at the curb.

In Williamstown, the limbs were chipped and will be used to make a walking trail behind Williamstown High School. The Kiwanis club has volunteered to spread the wood chips.

“It’s a pretty amazing sight,” said Doug Beckham, Williamstown’s city administrator. “The wood chips from the ground up probably fill a 30-foot by 12-foot area.

The FEMA reimbursement can also be used to replace or repair public recreational areas damaged by storms.

Fencing on the volleyball court in Williamstown’s Webb Park was destroyed by falling limbs from the storm. The city included $3,264 in its reimbursement request for a new fence.

In Dry Ridge, the city’s three-man maintenance department utilized inmates in the Grant County Detention Center’s Class D work program to clear debris.