POMEROY — A project many months in the making hit a major milestone on Tuesday with the Ribbon Cutting Ceremony for the Pomeroy River Bank Stabilization project.
Project Manager Captain Nolan Love from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Huntington District served as the Master of Ceremonies for the event.
The construction of the initial parking lot wall/flood wall in the Village of Pomeroy was completed in 1940, according to Capt. Love. The wall was rebuilt in 1951 on the downriver side by the Ohio Department of Transportation. Further downriver, the most recent mitigation of 600 feet was stabilized in 1974 through Section 14 funding (the same type funding used now) by the Corps of Engineers.
“The current project which was completed in recent months consisted of a series of river bank stabilization measures to include repair of the wall and installation of stone buttresses throughout four separate locations. Measures were implemented to substantially reduce erosion during high water events and to ensure the protection of critical infrastructure supporting the village,” said Love.
The four main areas worked on in the project included the upstream portion of the parking lot near Rite Aid, the riverbank near Francis Florist, an area just upstream from Village Hall and an area near Plum Street.
In early January 2019 the barges of equipment, including cranes arrived in Pomeroy to begin the work. Work was hindered at times by high water levels in the area.
Col. Jason Evers, Commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Huntington District, spoke of the project and the work that was needed to stabilize the roadway (Main Street) which is the main source of transportation in the area.
Of the 8,000 linear feet of river bank area examined, approximately 2,200 linear feet were in need of protection, said Col. Evers. He explained that the continued erosion would have led to the undercutting of the roadway and the possible collapse.
Evers said the Corps of Engineers team working on the project took the conditions seriously and “went above and beyond” to move the project forward as quickly as possible, while taking cost saving steps as much as possible.
Capt. Love explained that those cost saving measures have allowed there to be extra work completed and some will be completed in the coming weeks. The additional work is to include longitudinal dykes which will help to stabilize areas of future concern. Those areas could have become problem spots 10 years down the road, explained Capt. Love, noting that it is better to take the preventative steps now before a problem occurs.
Congressman Bill Johnson (R) thanked all of those who stepped up to play a part in the project. He said that it is not in every village or county where officials and agencies can work together for the best interest of the local residents.
Johnson added the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers did everything they could to take care of the situation.
Johnson said he was contacted in 2017 about the situation and reached out to the Corps of Engineers to see what was being done. While the Corps of Engineers knew of the project and was making it a priority, they did not have the needed funding to make it happen. They told Johnson that is where he could come in and help. Working with the appropriations at the federal level, Johnson explained that they were given twice what they originally asked for to make the project happen.
Johnson first visited Pomeroy regarding the matter in August 2017, meeting with Mayor Don Anderson and others concerning the erosion and slippage.
A feasibility study was conducted in 2017 to set the scope of the project, but the flooding in early 2018 resulted in additional damage to the stream bank, therefore changing the scope of the project.
With the federal funding in place, it was a matter of securing the matching funds on the village side. That came with help from Ohio Public Works and others.
“It worked like clockwork to get it done,” said Johnson.
“This is what happens when people come together to get things done,” concluded Johnson.
Pomeroy Village Council President Nick Michael spoke on behalf of the village and Mayor Anderson, who was unable to attend the ceremony.
Michael thanked many of the agencies and individuals who have been involved in the project in several roles, including Ohio Public Works and TID for funding, Gene Triplett and Sara Walpole from the Meigs County Engineer’s Office, Fred Vogel from ODOT, Farmers Bank, Solicitor Adam Salisbury, the Community Improvement Corporation, Family of Jay Hall, former Mayor Jackie Welker, Mayor Don Anderson, Congressman Bill Johnson, State Representative Jay Edwards, contractor Amherst, Corps of Engineers staff including Chris Carson and Captain Love, Village Administrator John Witherell, Code Enforcement Officer Alan Miles, and many others.
Likewise, State Rep. Jay Edwards thanked all of those who came together to make the project happened.
Edwards recalled the many phone calls regarding the project, including those with Mayor Anderson and Congressman Johnson.
Everyone working together to make a project like this one happen, noted Edwards, is a reason he is proud to be part of this region.
Sarah Hawley is the managing editor of The Daily Sentinel.