Projects in Ottawa and Findlay were discussed, and a maintenance vehicle purchase was approved, during Tuesday’s meeting of the Maumee Watershed Conservancy District board of directors.

Lynn Army, general manager of the district, reported that sanitary sewer work has begun in Findlay, where a project is underway to excavate an area along the Blanchard River to increase flow capacity and decrease flooding.

Board member Steve Wilson said American Electric Power (AEP) still needs to relocate its transmission poles in the area. That work will start next month, and is expected to be complete by the close of October. New, galvanized steel poles will replace the current ones.

“We weren’t sure how long it was going to take them to get on-site and get going, but they’re on schedule,” Wilson said.

The second phase of that project will consist of the replacement or modification of the Norfolk Southern railroad bridge just upstream.

Wilson said the board recently received a preliminary engineering force-account agreement from Norfolk Southern, to allow the company to be reimbursed for reviewing preliminary plans for the bridge work. The estimate for that review was $30,000.

The board also received a proposal from Stantec Inc. to do preliminary engineering on the bridge at a cost of $144,000. Wilson said that estimate may be high, as it included trips to Norfolk Southern’s Atlanta, Ga., headquarters, which may or may not be necessary.

Those agreements, plus a memorandum of agreement with Hancock County, which will pay for the work, were approved unanimously by the board. The money will come from the county’s flood fund.

“I really appreciate you continuing to move forward on these projects,” said Findlay Mayor Christina Muryn, who was in attendance.

The board is scheduled to visit Findlay next month for a tour of the work underway there.

The group also heard an update on plans to construct a diversion channel outside the village of Ottawa.

Wilson said the Blanchard River steering committee met with Ottawa officials in June to update them on the land-rights acquisition process and future construction planning.

“We are very close to getting the settlement agreements approved for the land rights,” Wilson said. “Hopefully we’ll have a final decision this week on getting those approved.”

Related to that project, board members met recently with representatives from Dominion Energy and AEP, in an effort to get an easement across AEP’s property for a construction access road. Wilson said AEP also will need to provide access for Dominion to complete gas line relocation work.

“It was a good meeting,” Wilson said. “Hopefully by the end of the month we’ll have agreements with both Dominion and AEP to get that process moving.”

Wilson said that project will likely go to bid in the fall, with the project start date depending on the contractor chosen, and the weather.

“Things are progressing, still too slowly for everybody’s concern, but they are progressing,” Wilson said.

Wilson also noted that in order for Dominion to access its work site, a local contractor in Ottawa may need to be hired to construct a short section of access road before the project goes out for bid.

During the project, about 200,000 cubic yards of dirt will be removed and relocated.

In other business Tuesday, the board:

• approved the purchase of a maintenance vehicle from Mark Moats Ford, at a cost of $32,700.

• heard from board member George Ropp that the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) is investigating the Van Wert County Auditor’s Office following a report of alleged criminal activity. Ropp urged board members to “keep (their) ears open,” as the board does business with the auditor’s office.

• approved a pair of bridge plans, one a hydraulic review for a bridge over Grassy Creek in Wood County, and the other for the Putnam County Road 19 bridge. Both sets of plans were reviewed by the Maumee-based Feller, Finch and Associates engineering firm.

• passed the certificate of annual levy funds for 2020.

• heard from secretary/treasurer Wendy Yunker that the district is currently $70,000 under-budget, and that this year’s premium for liability insurance decreased $400 from last year’s. Yunker also reported that all invoices are paid.

• appropriated an additional $17,000 into the maintenance equipment account, to pay for utilities at the district’s new storage facility, and replace chainsaws.

• heard from Wilson that Stantec has started fieldwork on the Eagle Creek basin project in southern Hancock County. Fieldwork is expected to wrap up in October, and soil boring should start there next week, Wilson said.

• heard from Army that 130 miles of herbicide application is complete, with 60 miles remaining.

The board is set to meet again Sept. 10 in Findlay.

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