Cliff Hartline and Pat Scherger have been the drivers for what is now decades behind the push to convert our native stream, Wolf Creek, into Wolf Drainage Ditch. And in a twist of irony, Cliff Hartline, in his public comments to the board of county commissioners at the first hearing on Sept. 18, inadvertently and unintentionally presented a very strong argument against going forward with this costly and counter-productive project.
Cliff explained that the main reason he was experiencing flooding on his property was the constant cleaning of laterals (tributaries to the main channel) in the Alvada area upstream from his property, and that by constantly dipping out their ditches, the people upstream from him were sending their runoff down onto him in ever-greater volume and at ever-greater velocities, thereby causing ever greater flooding and soil erosion on his property downstream.
The solution he proposed seemed simple and obvious enough to him. Simply repeat the process and move it on down to the next guy; i.e., do the same and pass it on (making it worse). In this case, increase the volume and velocity of runoff water and shove it onto Sandusky County, which is precisely what he proposed the last time he and Pat Scherger petitioned the government to assess thousands of property owners to pay for their grand scheme.
At that time, the Seneca County commissioners went along with them, but the people on the receiving end were terrified, and all three Sandusky County commissioners voted "no," thereby killing the proposal.
Anyone can get rid of their trash by simply dumping it on the neighbors. But is this really what Seneca County wants to be known for (in addition to being incapable of figuring out how to preserve its historic courthouse)? Now it can't figure out how to handle its runoff, so it's simply going to dump it on the neighbors.
Now folks, this is not at all neighborly, and in addition Sandusky County (not a foreign country) has previously and emphatically said "no" to this counterproductive and outright destructive proposal. Can Seneca County officials thumb their noses at the people of Sandusky County?
They probably can, although I would think it would be inviting a lawsuit costing the taxpayers of Seneca County potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal costs and millions of dollars in damages. I would be surprised if a group of downstream property owners did not file a lawsuit, probably joined by several political subdivisions (think washed out township and county roads and bridges).
And is this really the precedent Seneca County officials want to set? Keep in mind that Seneca County residents are downstream of scores of major political subdivisions - counties, cities, townships, villages, and soil and water districts - that might take the attitude "if they can do it, we can do it" (which is the justification Cliff Hartline already has provided for going forward with his proposal). All of this is incredibly bad judgment, bad politics and bad government.
No, wait - there's more. In addition to all the above, two of the three Seneca County commissioners who may well decide the fate of our beautiful native stream (you saw what happened to our courthouse when left to their judgment and their mercy) already have been voted out of office (I wonder why) and no longer will even be commissioners just days following their decision Monday.
As one of their final acts in office, I make a plea for clemency, a stay of execution, that this travesty be averted, and that the two defeated commissioners leave a legacy of life, and that they be not known only for destruction.
But if they choose not life, but again destruction, I leave the reader with a positive thought from the ancient Mayans. If the world ends Dec. 21, none of this will matter, and none of us will care. And then Wolf Creek can flow freely down to the sea, as God intended.
Kevin Williams can be reached at P. O. Box 51 Sycamore, OH. 44882-0051