Drainage situation improves

Published 8:53 am Friday, February 16, 2007

By Staff
Plymouth enters contracts to get airport under way
By DAN PARSONS, Staff Writer
PLYMOUTH — The Town Council was shown a solution to the town’s drainage problems during a presentation by Wayne Howell and Rufus Croom, Washington County Natural Resources Conservation Service representatives, during its meeting Monday.
Compared to the other counties in the state affected by Hurricane Isabel in 2003, Washington County probably received the least amount of state and federal aid for waterway cleanup in the wake of the storm, Howell said. During the past few years, Howell said, he and his agency have been able to prod the state into providing enough money to fix most of the county’s storm-related drainage problems.
So far, the county has acquired almost $500,000 for maintenance and repair of waterways damaged as a result of Isabel. Of that amount, $120,000 was spent on cleaning and repairing drainage ditches in Plymouth and throughout the county, Howell said. Without that work being done, moderate rains would have left Plymouth and the county sodden.
The council’s attention was focused on its drainage problems at its September 2006 meeting when Councilman Albert Douget, who recently resigned his seat, made a motion to set up a countywide committee to report on flooding concerns. The motion was prompted by Croom’s presentation on the state of the town’s drainage system.
Although most of the work to improve drainage has taken place since September 2006, there is more work to be done, said interim Town Manager Sam Styons.
The council, led by Mayor Brian Roth, thanked Howell and Croom for their work on the town’s drainage problems.
Croom wanted to make sure the council knew that his and Howell’s recent work is not a one-time fix.
In other business, the council discussed the Plymouth Airport improvement plan. The council voted unanimously to enter into contracts with the N.C. Department of Transportation and Delta Consultants to get that project under way.
The town contracted with DOT to receive $580,000 in special-appropriations funding to purchase land from Weyerhaeuser. That land will be used to extend the airport’s runway, a project that must be completed within a year, according to the contract.
Delta, an environmental consulting firm based in St. Paul, Minn., will prepare an environmental assessment of the purchased land and help the town obtain permits required for the project. Once the permits are obtained, work to extend the runway may begin, Styons said. Any money left over after the land is bought will be used to help pay for the runway project.