Born and raised in Clinton, Joe Guinn said he has seen Feather Creek flood with very high water at least a half dozen times during his 72 years of life.
Standing near the Ninth Street bridge Monday, he pointed to a house near the creek that once belonged to a relative of his wife. Water would get into the basement of the former Crosby home, he said, every time the creek would flood.
“It would be about knee high where I am standing,” said Guinn, positioned about 10 feet from the edge of the creek’s tree lined bank. “This is really something to get this project done,” he said.
Ed Magee, 85, operated a boat shop in Clinton, now owned by his son. He recalls when water was over his shop’s lot, nearly enough to launch a boat from the back door. The creek’s water never flooded inside his building, though, he said.
The two attended a ceremony Monday kicking off the project to control flooding from Feather Creek. Relocating sewer lines was the first part of the project and QBS Inc. of Alliance, Ohio, began its work Monday to widen and clear trees from 3,300 feet of the creek bed. Duke Energy will also relocate power lines for the project.
The creek’s channel width, now between 5 feet and 17 feet, will be widened to 24 to 30 feet, depending on location in the creek. The more than $1.8 million project will start near the east end of Knowles Street and extend to the end of Anderson Street through Clinton.
“It will be wider and deeper, because it will include what they call berms, so it is almost like a levee,” said Kristy Jerrell, grant administrator for West Central Indiana Economic Development District.
Trees will be removed and a two-to-one slope will be made along the bank’s edge with large riprap stone to prevent erosion, Jerrell said, adding that sediment and debris will be removed from the creek.
The project required permanent easements from 43 property owners for about 10 acres of improvements. “Not one person asked for money. They all willingly signed easements for this project, which is very unusual. They want peace of mind and quality of life back,” Jerrell said.
The easements allow the city of Clinton to regularly remove any trees or debris in the creek, Jerrell said.
Clinton Mayor Jack Gilfoy said the idea to improve the creek through Clinton has been batted about since 1939. “This is a great day for the citizens of Clinton. They deserve this, and I am glad to see this happen,” Gilfoy said.
“We have overcome many hurdles. It was not an easy road” to get the project started, Gilfoy said. “When [the creek] floods, it impacts the whole city. Not only the people along the creek, it cuts the city in half. If police or fire department have a run, it is hard. I am happy this is finally coming to conclusion,” the mayor said.
The U.S. Corps of Engineers is paying $1.1 million of the project, with more than $500,000 from the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs and about $35,000 from the City of Clinton.
Michael Thissen, director of community affairs for OCRA, said federal disaster relief funds from the 2008 flood were made available to the state for economic recovery. “There was about $415 million in total for the entire state of Indiana,” he said. “We are very happy to put half a million dollars of that into this project, as it is a unique project … and we can match ourselves with the [U.S.] Corps of Engineers.”
Reporter Howard Greninger can be reached at 812-231-4204 or howard.