published Wednesday, April 3rd, 2013

Hamilton County to vote on natural hazard plan, debt management

Repairing wreckage left by flooding, hazardous material spills and other natural and man-made disasters isn't cheap. That's why Hamilton County looks to federal assistance when Mother Nature shows the Chattanooga Valley her more destructive side.

Commissioners are expected to vote today on whether to adopt a new natural hazards mitigation plan to be submitted to the Federal Emergency Management Agency. For the next five years, the plan would lock the county into the federal agency's Hazard Mitigation Grant Program, which documents dangerous natural and manmade phenomena and sets out plans for how to deal with them.

Don Allen, the county's human services director, said the measure is routine -- but important.

"Basically, it allows Hamilton County to be eligible to apply for grants when you have a disaster in your community. Floods are number one. Floods are the biggest problem that we've had," Allen said.

Hazardous material spills are No. 2 on the county's watch list, Allen said.

"Because the I-75/I-24 corridor, and the manufacturing we have here and the river ... we are susceptible to a hazardous material event," he said.

The commission also will vote to move up to $76.5 million from its commercial paper program into long-term bonds.

Assistant Administrator of Finance Albert Kiser told commissioners last week at an agenda session for today's meeting that the move would save the county money in the long run.

After today's meeting, commissioners will at 1 p.m. begin interviewing applicants for the Juvenile Court Judge position to replace Judge Suzanne Bailey. Bailey will retire on April 30.

Contact staff writer Louie Brogdon at lbrogdon@timesfree or 423-757-6481.

about Louie Brogdon...

Louie Brogdon began reporting with the Chattanooga Times Free Press in February 2013. Before he came to the Scenic City, Louie lived on St. Simons Island, Ga. and covered crime, courts, environment and government at the Brunswick News, a 17,000-circulation daily on the Georgia coast. While there, he was awarded for investigative reporting on police discipline and other law enforcement issues by the Georgia Press Association. For the Times Free Press, Louie covers Hamilton County ...

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