By Sam Conner
A group of officials and interested people from Winslow, Navajo County and the Navajo Nation met with Colonel Kim Colloton of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and others from that agency on the levee near the Little Colorado River last week.
Colonel Colloton said near the end of the meeting that the project is looking good, and that she was confident that the levee will be constructed and get most of Winslow out of the flood plain eventually. She noted that there is $750,000 in the federal budget for completing the feasibility study in 2015.
Present representing the Corps of Engineers were Colonel Colloton, commander of the Los Angeles District; Richard Leifield, chief of the Engineering Division; Josephine Axt, chief of the Planning Division; and Brian Kenny, project manager. They spoke regarding the history of the project and plans for the near future.
Representing Navajo County were Jesse Thompson, chairman of the Board of Supervisors; Homero Vela, director of Public Works and assistant county manager; Bill Bess, county engineer and flood plain administrator; Trent Larson, Planning and Zoning manager; Teresa Cameron, hydrology technician; and Brandy Tomhave, consultant. They spoke about the history of the levee, and progress toward getting it repaired and recertified.
Representing the city of Winslow were Councilman Harold Soehner, City Manager Steve Pauken, City Engineer Mark Woodson and Community Development Director Paul Ferris. They spoke about the damage done to the city by having it declared in a flood plain and the devastating expense of flood insurance for residents of the city. It was said that this is one of the worst obstacles faced by Winslow residents.
Members of the Winslow Levee Advisory Committee or their representatives present were Ross Black, facilities director of Little Colorado Medical Center; Tom McCauley, board member and owner of DynaRock and Sand, Inc.; Doug Watson, Winslow Unified School District superintendent; Foreman Kevin Fritz representing Jim O’Haco, board member and rancher; and Walter Phelps, board member and Navajo Nation Council delegate; and Crystal Cree, legislative representative.
The meeting seemed well coordinated with all participants realizing the seriousness of the situation, and the need to get the study completed and construction started. Winslow faces no more serious challenge than getting the levee recertified and most of the city out of the flood plain. It was stated that the citizens of Winslow pay more than $300,000 per year for flood insurance since the Federal Emergency Management Agency declared most of the city in a flood plain.
By Sam Conner