Thursday, April 3, 1997
Falmouth seeking relief
Proposed federal aid package
could total $50 million

The Cincinnati Enquirer

Neediest Kids of All Flood Relief Fund
FALMOUTH - If local officials get their way, Pendleton County residents could relocate their homes through a buyout or stay where they are with a flood wall and improved infrastructure to protect them and the Falmouth business district.

In the package deal - which could total $50 million - that county and city officials are taking to their congressmen, underdeveloped land north and south of Falmouth would be hooked into sewer and water lines and existing utilities upgraded.

''These are things that would help everybody,'' Mayor Pro Tem Anthony Strong said Wednesday.

That includes local government. By piping water and other utilities to undeveloped areas, officials hope residents choosing to relocate will do so within the county, maintaining the tax base and the needed customer base for businesses.

But first they have to get their congressional representatives to fight for the funds.

''I think it's the way to go, and we'll take all the money we can get, but things are beginning to work out all right,'' Pendleton Judge-executive Donald Mays said.

He, Mr. Strong, and others will meet with U.S. Sen. Wendell Ford on Friday to present their ideas.

Mr. Ford's staff already is providing local officials with planning assistance funds as they work to rebuild areas nearly destroyed in the flooding, spokeswoman Jan Gerding Celella said.

And U.S. Rep. Jim Bunning, R-Southgate, has requested $500,000 from the Energy and Water Appropriations Committee to update all studies on a flood wall and dam system for the Licking River.

''We can change the request if local officials have more specific ideas, but we had to make a decision this week,'' spokesman Dave York said.

Sen. Mitch McConnell said he would push to support Mr. Bunning's request for funds in the Senate.

Mr. Strong and Mr. Mays want to present the group's ideas to all of the county's representatives.

''It's going to take a bipartisan effort and federal help to get these things done, and we want help from all levels of government,'' Mr. Strong said.

Eventually, officials hope to meet with President Clinton and the secretaries of commerce, transportation, and housing and urban development.

''If we were to approach Washington and ask them to look at this poor little town,'' Falmouth Councilman Jeff Carson said, ''I know in my heart it's a tough sell to get a flood wall or a dam. But good God almighty, if we can take some money to improve other things, it would make a great difference.''