HOWARD — Hundreds of willow stakes were planted along an important 500-foot stretch of the Kokosing River in Howard’s Pipesville Road area, which Knox County officials are counting on to stave off continued erosion that has threatened the county’s five water wells serving Apple Valley water customers. Erosion over the years has caused the river to meander closer and closer to the wells.
Jeff Pickrell, county water and wastewater superintendent, provided a project update with photos to Knox County commissioners Tuesday. Mark Haynes Construction of Norwalk completed planting the willow stakes Nov. 21 under a $179,000 contract approved by the county as the successful project bidder in September. There was an entire truck full of the stakes, which came in bundles of about 30. With four stakes planted every square foot, they resembled hair follicles on a scalp. Rock in some areas required Haynes Construction to use a trackhoe with an attached pipe to punch holes for the stake plantings, with the plan being that enough willows will survive and thrive to create a root system that stops erosion at a very important point along the Kokosing Scenic River, Pickrell said.
Project funding came from the Muskingum Watershed Conservatory District in a grant of $150,000, with the remaining $29,000 paid from county water funds, Pickrell said. He worked with Nick Lautzenheiser, the conservancy district’s development coordinator based in New Philadelphia, to secure project funding through the grant. The trees were harvested in early November, and Pickrell, along with the commissioners, marveled at how root-less tree stakes can grow while expressing their hope that nearly all will take root and thrive.
“It’s the first time that I’ve been involved in anything like this, ever,” Pickrell said.
Pickrell also updated commissioners on a new water tank inspection method that is patterned after the Mars rover — a device dropped in Apple Valley’s front tank, and back tank, to determine if the tanks would need to be cleaned. An umbilical cord-like extension, with a camera, is dropped into the tank. The “rover” is equipped with jet propulsion and a waterproof camera, along with a claw for picking up objects if needed. The contract, with Mid Atlantic Storage Systems Inc. of Washington Court House, cost $1,500 and was well worth it, Pickrell said, as it produced photos of the glass-lined water tank walls with fine detail.
The photos revealed that the back tank is clean and does not need to be emptied and cleaned — a laborious process involving chlorination. However, the front tank does have some bolts that will likely need to be removed and replaced, a project set for early next year. Atlantic Storage Systems will also complete those repairs, Pickrell said.
The front tank and back tank are vital to county water operations in Apple Valley, as they are fed water by the county’s five active wells in the area. Both tanks are involved in volume and pressure related to the water wells, Pickrell said.
Commissioners also on Tuesday:
•Approved a notice of intent, and a request for the release of funds involving Office of Community Development block grant funds. The funds will be used for improvements at Knox County Airport, in the form of a doorway and two restrooms, which will be compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. That project received $100,000 in block grant funding and should start by spring, while funding for an ADA-compliant special lift at the Escape Zone was approved in the amount of $15,000.
•Approved the advertising of a public notice involving a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) related to the replacement of the Parrott Street Bridge in Clinton Twp., a $1 million project, along with advertising a legal notice and explanation of the proposed action. The bridge, at Columbus Road and Parrott Street, has rusted and is in less than ideal condition, Commission President Thom Collier said. Project funding involves a $450,000 Community Development Block Grant and should begin in the spring. It will feature walkways spanning the bridge.