Local leaders take concerns to U.S. repPublished 12:00am Sunday, June 17, 2012
SOUTH POINT — Village and township leaders shared their concerns with visiting U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson in a special meeting Friday at the Greater Lawrence County Area Chamber of Commerce.
The Sixth District Ohio Congressman fielded questions about local issues as well heard the group’s concerns about the federal government.
Chesapeake Mayor Dick Gilpin asked Johnson what could be done to remedy a silt problem in the once popular recreation area of Symmes Creek.
Gilpin said when the Corps of Engineers gave up dredging the creek, responsibility of the creek shuffled from the county to the township and to the Symmes Creek Restoration group.
“But they don’t have any funds and we don’t have any funds to dredge it,” Gilpin said.
Gilpin said he would like the federally-owned property to be developed again into a usable recreational area.
“We, as a village, don’t have the money to maintain that,” Gilpin said. “We are bare bones.”
“We can get engaged in that,” Johnson said. “We have solved those problems before successfully.”
Johnson continued to say he would look into ways of getting the area formally turned over to the community and added that earmarks are not an option.
“We have to be creative with grants and cooperative ventures,” Johnson said.
South Point Mayor Ron West and village administrator Pat Leighty asked Johnson for help with railroad crossings in their community.
“We probably have the worst crossings of any place in the state of Ohio,” Leighty said.
West said crossings were torn out and replaced about a month ago, but are already deteriorating. He also made note of the railroads continued elevation since he was a child.
“They keep raising the rails in South Point,” West said. “When I was boy we could go across the railroad track in South Point just about on the same elevation on both sides. Now they are probably eight to 10 feet above elevation.”
West said one of the crossings is nearly high enough to put in an underpass, but the village doesn’t have the funds to do it.
Johnson said he would like to set up times to observe the various crossings, as well Symmes Creek, during a future visit.
Gilpin said he felt talking about the Symmes Creek situation was a step in the right direction.
“I feel that (Johnson) knows where the Village of Chesapeake is now and what our concerns are,” he said.
West also said he felt optimistic after the meeting.
After the meeting, Johnson said job creation would be important to the villages and townships to increase their revenues.
“If the local population and the local economy is producing, the local government takes in more revenue as well and they have more money in their coffers to do the kind of things they need to do,” he said. “We have to put America back to work.”