Highway 89 Bridge Construction Could Relieve Holly Levee Improvements

Holly Town Administrator Marsha Willhite shared her concerns with board members regarding the potential cost of improving the community’s four mile span of levees.   Engineers hired by FEMA, Federal Emergency Management Authority, have been remapping flood plains throughout the nation.  Holly’s levees are considered to be ‘critical’ in that they’ve been deemed two feet too short to provide adequate protection against rising water levels in a one hundred year flood scenario.  Willhite said, “This reclassification places almost the entire community in an expanded flood plain.  This means insurance rates in this area would increase because we’d be rezoned accordingly, and those persons would need to carry flood insurance.” 

The good news, and Willhite’s hope out of this situation, is a hydrology study commissioned by CDOT.  The study take will take into account how much flood relief would be provided by the current bridge expansion on highway 89, south of town.  Willhite explained, “I’m anticipating an update from CDOT on how much bottleneck relief could be provided, but until that time, we just won’t know.”  She said the costs associated with shoring up the levees are beyond the town’s budget, and she will find out if federal funding is available for construction and if the work can be done in stages instead of one continuous project.  Willhite stated that FEMA is also awaiting the results of the CDOT hydrology engineering study. 

The town’s auxiliary generator was recently repaired, according to Vance Brian, Field Services Operator.  He told the board, a panel of fuses and breakers has been replaced, and the generator performed well in two test modes.  The community will be officially informed in advance of a cold-start test scheduled at 3am on Wednesday, July 20.  Lamar Light and Power will be informed of the test in which essentially, the plug will be pulled on the community, and the only operating power that morning will come from the auxiliary generator to see how it handles the load.  The test should last one hour.  Brian said his crew repaired a leak to the Holly Library roof, as water was filtering from the ceiling.  The road repair budget for chip seal was expended on 1st, 2nd and 3rd Streets last month, and several compliments were offered for the repairs on the community restrooms in the park prior to the annual Blue Grass Festival.  The board also discussed a weather related issue from a sudden wind microburst during a June 28 storm.  Although there had been claims of a tornado, no corresponding reports had been issued by the National Weather Service and no local alarm was sounded.  When asked if the NWS had done any improvements on storm radar allowing tornadoes to be predicted for the community, the town administrator replied no.  As Holly is in a geographic depression, and one of the lowest points in the state, their current radar equipment cannot detect tornadoes below a specific altitude.

 Representatives from DoLA, Department of Local Affairs, will be in Holly July 18 to discuss rezoning issues for the community.  Willhite explained that the discussions had been put on hold since the tornado four years ago.  The city’s population had declined since the 2000 national census.  Willhite said the 2010 census shows the population at 895, down from the 1,048 figure ten years ago.  The board approved a special events license for August 12 for Adolfson & Peterson Construction Company.  The firm is holding an outdoor ‘meet and greet’ in the park for potential contractors for the high school renovation project.  The board also approved the liquor license renewal for Toni’s Bar.  A variance was granted for a two foot extension setback for property owned by Hugh Rushton at the intersection of Park and Highland Streets.  The Variance board determined that will pose no obstruction to traffic. 

In other action, the board discussed the need for three drainage tubes to be placed in the east and west alleys and one near CR35, on the Hefley-Weimer addition northeast of town and the swimming pool.  This is the site that contained numerous FEMA trailers following the tornado.   Plans of the new owners call for houses to be constructed on seven lots.  Utilities are already in place on the acreage.

By Russ Baldwin


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