- Associated Press - Sunday, November 8, 2015

FINDLAY, Ohio (AP) - Six counties in northwestern Ohio have approved a proposal to remove dead and leaning ash trees from the banks of the flood-prone Blanchard River.

Commissioners representing the Blanchard River Stream Enhancement Project awarded the $1 million contract Thursday to excavating contractor H&H; Land Clearing, The Courier in Findlay reported (http://bit.ly/1Hn0Mum). The contractor is based in Middlefield, located about 30 miles east of Cleveland.

The group previously agreed to the ash tree project in June. Flood control along the river has become a major priority for Findlay and nearby cities after five floods since 2007 led to millions of dollars in damage.

As recently as June, rising water from the Blanchard River closed several streets in Findlay and Ottawa.

The commissioners also agreed to let counties perform small river maintenance projects on their own, as long as they cost no more than $50,000. Contracts, which previously required a board vote, will now be able to move more swiftly, said Hancock County Commissioner Phillip Riegle.

More than 55,000 parcels in the Blanchard River watershed will be assessed $18 per parcel for the project.

The counties include Allen County, Hancock County, Hardin County, Putnam County, Seneca County, and Wyandot County.

Commissioners must now approve the assessment for each individual county by passing a resolution. They budget about $2.5 million each year for flood control.

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Information from: The Courier, http://www.thecourier.com

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