Last updated: August 24. 2013 5:08PM - 55 Views

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OTTAWA — The sound of pounding rain filled the room at the Educational Services Center on Monday.“Listen,” said Ottawa Community Development Director Jeff Loehrke. The rain served as a reminder of why they were there — to find a way to mitigate flooding in the region. Still, answers, as well as funding, remained elusive.Nearly 60 officials from all levels of government attended the meeting to discuss the status of Blanchard River flood-mitigation efforts and what still needed to be accomplished.Ottawa Village Councilwoman Deb Bauer said there is local frustration that federal funding doesn’t seem to be there. During a recent Village Council meeting, the Army Corps of Engineers said it did not have the money to complete its study and did not expect to have it next year.Ottawa Municipal Director Jack Williams said it was important to slow down the river.“We all need to be cognizant of the fact that the flood and storm water goes somewhere and has an impact on someone else,” Williams said.He said federal and state government spend millions on disaster relief.“Maybe if they would use money to slow down the water they wouldn’t have to spend the money after the fact,” Williams said.Ottawa Councilman Gene Hovest pleaded for federal officials to find a way to fund the flood mitigation.“We’re watching you closely,” he told elected officials present at the meeting. Loehrke said this was the first meeting of this type.“In the past we sent a contingency to Washington, D.C., to work with elected officials about this problem,” he said. “Because of budget restraints we decided to have them come here this time.”Among those in attendance were U.S. Rep. Bob Latta, R-Bowling Green, a representative from U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Urbana, state Rep. Robert Sprague, R-Findlay, and a representative from Gov. John Kasich’s office.Federal officials promised to continue to push to have funds earmarked for the project.“One side of this equation is economic development,” Latta said. “We have to get the money here.”“Our communities need this to move forward,” Sprague said. “We can’t miss the boat again.”

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