Friday, October 17, 2003

Flooding focus of Fairfield hopefuls

By John Kiesewetter
The Cincinnati Enquirer

FAIRFIELD - City council candidates promised to solve Pleasant Run Creek flooding problems at a Thursday forum staged by victims of the June 14-15 flood that damaged 100 homes here.

The six candidates - none of them incumbents, and three from the Third Ward hit hardest by the $1.5-million flood - criticized city plans to build a new golf course clubhouse and community arts center before doing more to prevent flooding along the creek.

"They just broke ground for an arts center, and you're worried about getting water in your home," said Marty Judd, a Second Ward candidate, to 40 members of the Fairfield Flood Victims 6/14.

The June flood was the worst in the city since 1979.

In the past two decades, the city has spent $10 million to build two retention basins and address Pleasant Run Creek flooding problems.

Betty Kellum, also a Second Ward candidate, told the group how her Littlebrook property was flooded by Pleasant Run Creek in 1958 and 1964.

"You should not have to live in fear every time it rains," Kellum said.

"The city's role is to protect its people at whatever the cost. There is no other moral or ethical answer."

Keith Davis, a Third Ward candidate, said the city should not be spending $1.25 million on a new golf clubhouse.

"Until the flooding issue is dealt with, that's the last thing we should spend any money on," said Davis, who promised to be a full-time council member, if elected.

Debbie Pennington, who lives along the creek on Crystal Drive, said she came home from her son's wedding June 14 to flooding.

"I lived through the first flood (1979), and I thought we'd gotten it taken care of," she said.

Third Ward candidate Mitch Rhodus promised to work on the problem, doing "whatever it takes to get the job done - as long as there's money in the city's coffers."

Charles Klosterman, a Fourth Ward candidate, told the group "there's no short-term fix. It needs to be addressed, and a final long-term solution be brought about."

Three incumbents and a former mayor were among the six candidates who did not attend the meeting.


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