Saturday, July 12, 2014

County on hunt for levee engineer

Flood Protection Authority officials also seek to remove $3.1 million in funds from FNCB.

April 16. 2013 11:37PM

By - - (570) 991-6388

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The Luzerne County Flood Protection Authority will be meeting soon to discuss the hiring of an engineer to oversee the Wyoming Valley Levee, authority Chairman Stephen A. Urban said after Tuesday’s authority meeting.

Urban said the authority has saved money by relying on county Chief Engineer Joe Gibbons since engineer Jim Brozena retired as authority executive director in January, but the authority must act on a replacement now that Gibbons has accepted employment outside the region.

Authority members praised Gibbons on Tuesday for filling in for Brozena and helping to monitor the levee during past Susquehanna River flooding, including the record flood in September 2011.

“It’s a sad day again for the county,” said authority member Kevin O’Brien, who previously worked in the county Emergency Management Agency. “I wish you much success in your new endeavor. I’m going to miss you.”

Gibbons, who will wrap up his county employment May 3, told the authority his work on the levee system during flooding was one of the most important aspects of his 12-year county career. “It’s near and dear to my heart, and I really think we have a great system,” Gibbons said, referring to the levee.

The county is fortunate to have employees, leaders and volunteers who unite and coordinate their response when the river rises — something that doesn’t exist in some other flood-prone parts of the country, he said. “It just makes you very proud to know that we have that kind of teamwork here,” Gibbons said.

In other business Tuesday:

* The authority agreed to seek proposals from financial institutions. Authority board member Douglas Ayers said he is not comfortable keeping $3.1 million in authority funds at the Dunmore-based First National Community Bank due to adverse publicity about some of its business practices. His authority colleagues agreed.

* Authority member Adrian Merolli said the Mill Creek flood control project in Duryea and Moosic is ready to proceed. The project will prevent flooding in Avoca by creating a larger ponding area to hold water runoff, Urban said.

* A solicitation for a levee fee collector also was discussed. The county is seeking proposals from entities to handle this work, and O’Brien said all proposal responders should be asked to send representatives to authority meetings to answer questions.

Representatives of the county treasurer’s office complained last year that the head of Northeast Revenue Services, the chosen company, was permitted to elaborate on the company’s qualifications at an authority meeting. The treasurer’s office also had submitted a proposal.

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