KOCHER, BENSON OUT AS NFIP ADMINISTRATORS IN LAWRENCE
LAWRENCE CO.—Norm Kocher and Julie Benson are no longer co-administrators of the National Flood Insurance Program in Lawrence County.
A vote was taken tonight (May 20, 2009) at the Lawrence County board meeting to remove the two, following a 30-minute executive session with the board that included Kocher and Benson, along with Lawrence state’s attorney Lisa Wade and deputy Trent Masterson
Kocher, who has a really bad attitude and a temper to match, was apparently a source of concern enough for the board that they saw the necessity of having a law enforcement officer present while the two were asked to resign in closed session.
When they did not, a vote was taken in open session to terminate the employ of the two as co-administrators. The vote was split down the board with Gene Hays, Jake Middagh and Pat Spidel voting ‘no’ to terminate; and Larry Stoltz, Kerry Emmons and Ryan Curtis voting ‘yes.’ The deciding vote was cast by board president Charles Gillespie, who, even though he has been heavily embattled throughout this flood issue, has still made sound decisions when faced with motions unpopular with the vocal minority.
NFIP was put in place by ordinance in October 2008, four months after a historical flood decimated parts of the county, particularly the Allison Prairie and Lake Lawrence.
Several hundred flooded-out residents initially wanted Lawrence EMA director Jess Angle’s head on a stick because he was derelict in his duty to advise the area that flood waters were impending and didn’t set up an evacuation nor shelter for almost 200 families that lost practically everything.
It’s been speculated since that if the board had removed Angle from his position in June 2008, as asked by 382 county residents in a petition, the NFIP issue may never have been brought to the fore as a matter of such importance.
As it was, NFIP was the only way for flood survivors to recoup some of their losses…and Angle still has a job.
Fighting the NFIP have been landowners and farmers who are now unable to alter their land significantly (irrigation, tiling, private levees, etc.) because of floodplain regulations and because of this are now making a show of “we want the government out of our lives.” In reality, it’s very possible that some of the alterations made over the years by the farmers to their fields might have lent to areas flooding in 2008 that had never flooded before; so they may have brought the problems on themselves.
When Kocher and Benson were placed as admin of the program, sensible folks thought it was a very bad idea, as both are and have all along been biased against it.
In a revealing statement read by Kerry Emmons at the May board meeting following the close of the executive session, he noted that he has learned that Kocher and Benson have so alienated state FEMA personnel that they will no longer respond to emails or phone calls coming from Lawrence County regarding NFIP.
Kocher, in his hostility, barked at Disclosure publisher Jack Howser during the meeting to stop taking pictures of him. Howser responded appropriately by setting the camera on servo (rapid-fire mechanism) and taking multitudes of photos of Kocher (while he held a paper in front of his face) as he bitched about the program and how the county should get out of it…revealing very clearly, as Emmons said, Kocher’s “position regarding NFIP.”
All mainstream media present at the meeting refused to publish Emmons’ statement; you will be able to read it in full in the June issue of Disclosure.
There are no stated plans by the county board as to who would be taking Kocher’s and Benson’s place.
Disclosure thinks someone of Emmons’ caliber would be a good choice.
ADDENDUM 5.21.9 5 P.M.
A reference was made last night to Alexander County, and how they, of all counties in the state, left NFIP when there was such public dissent. The woman in charge of NFIP admin in Alexander told Emmons that it was ‘economic suicide’ and they are only just now recovering after 18 years.
Take a look at the pics of Cairo at this link:
(you’ll have to cut and paste)
and decide for yourself if Cairo is a bustling river town like Lawrenceville wants to be.
Even the rats have deserted Cairo.
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