Saturday, June 14, 1997
City hall heads for basement
to escape flood

The Cincinnati Enquirer

SILVER GROVE - In the three months since flood waters rose to within two inches of the city building's ceiling, the hub of Silver Grove operations has been City Clerk Kay Wright's basement.

For six hours a day, three days a week, Silver Grove's 1,200 residents can pay a tax bill, secure a building permit, or otherwise conduct city business in Mrs. Wright's basement office.

The city copy machine is on an end table next to the Wrights' furnace, the fax is on a table across from their washing machine, and boxes of tax bills and building inspection records are neatly stacked atop Christmas decorations at one end.

Mrs. Wright works at a desk in front of shelves filled with jars of tomato sauce, jellies, and string beans that she's canned.

And at the opposite end of the Wrights' basement, a table for 10 doubles as city council's monthly meeting spot and extra dining space for family gatherings.

''Invariably, when I go upstairs for lunch, then somebody calls, and I say, 'Just a minute, let me get down to my desk,' '' the 68-year-old clerk said.

City officials learned last month that their insurance carrier will no longer provide flood insurance for the city building on low-lying Oak Street, so they're looking for a lot to build a new one.

In the meantime - by Mrs. Wright's estimation, the next six months - city operations will be run out of her home.

The red brick, two-story Cape Cod is home to Mrs. Wright and her husband, Junior, 73, a former Silver Grove council member. A sign on the front door advises ''city offices around back,'' and a fluorescent green sign on the basement door lists office hours, with the advisory that they're the ''same as the last 10 years.''

The latter sign was prompted by visitors who stopped by to apply for a permit at 7:30 one night.

As waters rose on March 3, Mrs. Wright offered her home on high ground as a temporary storage place for city records.

Throughout the afternoon of March 3, volunteers filled a dump truck with Silver Grove's records and supplies. The city tractor, dump truck, pickup, and trailer were parked in her driveway.

A week later, Mrs. Wright had the official city line forwarded to her home, and within two weeks, she began running the city from her basement.

''I think it was good of her to do it,'' said Council Member Raymond DeMoss. ''It's kind of hard to find room for a council anyway, and she's got a nice big basement up there. It's something that I think all of us appreciate.''