Black honored for service to county

Published 10:28 am Friday, July 1, 2011

From printer’s black ink to bureaucracy’s red tape, Joe Black has had a career that’s dealt with them both.

On Thursday, Black retired as the county’s flood plain administrator and was honored by the county commissioners, the staff of the soil and water conservation district where he worked, courthouse staff and officeholders.

The Ironton native started out as a composing room printer in 1966 at The Ironton Tribune, when newspapers were created from hot pieces of metal, not technologically driven electronic pages.

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“That’s when printing was really printing,” Black said.

After almost seven years at his hometown paper, he went to work for a couple of out of state newspapers, the Fort Wayne, Ind., Journal-Gazette and the Toledo Blade.

Coming back to Ironton he then worked for privately owned commercial operations.

Next he segued into local appraisal work before he “accidentally” fell into the work that helped get Lawrence County back into compliance with flood plain insurance authorities.

An audit by FEMA in the 1990s put the county on probation with the National Flood Insurance Program. The county had more than 100 violations that meant anyone with flood insurance had to pay a $50 surcharge on top of the regular premium.

Black became flood plain administrator when the office was out of the CAO in 1998.

“We took a very active approach (in monitoring the flood plain), he said. “Even if they thumbed their nose at the county, the bank had them have flood insurance to get a mortgage. I feel like we made great strides in the county. One of the key elements is to educate the public.

During its regular meeting the Lawrence County Commissioners honored the administrator by declaring Thursday “Joe Black Day.”

“He came in as flood plain administrator when things were tough,” Commission President Les Boggs said. “He had a lot on his plate. He got it going in the right direction.”

Black’s first boss at the CAO was Doug Cade, now the county engineer.

“Joe Black is a tremendous person, a great employee and a great friend,” Cade said. “You couldn’t ask for a better person to work with the public.”