Bank-hungry Blue River topic of report to council

COLUMBIA CITY — Whitley County Soil and Water Conservation District’s Gene Haskins told the Columbia City Common Council Tuesday night that answers to a recurring erosion problem at Morsches Park are not cut and dried.“Blue River seems to want to reclaim part of its banks, particularly during the rainy season,” said Haskins in a report to the council during its regular bi-monthly meeting.“There are two spots that are the worst spots,” said Haskins, referring to a portion of the river at Morsches Park.Haskins told the board consultants from the Federal Natural Resource Conservation Service as well as at least one private organization were polled in an attempt to seek a solution to the problem.One estimate to fix the eroding spots at the park, according to Haskins, was about $16,000, which didn’t include labor. Haskins said the labor involved would be extensive.The problem, according to Haskins, is that the banks of the river are steep and a road in the park is close to the river, making the obvious solution of reducing the grade of the banks a challenge.“That’s (creating a gradual incline in the banks) really what you’d want to do if you wanted to make a permanent fix on this,” said Haskins.Haskins added that grants are also being sought to attempt to finance any solutions that would be agreed upon.Also included in Haskins’ report was a recurring drainage problem at the county’s fairgrounds.“Anybody who’s lived here for a while knows that if you get an inch of rain, you have a drainage problem down at the fairgrounds and it seems to always happen during fair week,” he said.Haskins also highlighted various community-oriented programs his organization is involved in, including an annual fifth-grade field day, which in 2010 was attended by more than 450 students and the Ag Day for first-graders held in March and attended by 476 children.