Recent flooding caused ten thousand cubic yards of silt and other material to pile up in the Meadow Valley Wash in Caliente. It was enough to have the city declare a state of emergency.

The Lincoln County Board of Commissioners voted 4-1 Sept. 8 to accept the City of Caliente’s declaration of an emergency, but the county itself with not make a similar declaration.

District Attorney Daniel Hooge said the City of Caliente is still able to submit their own application to the State Emergency Management Office for assistance, apart from the county.

County Emergency Management Director Rick Stever told commissioners requirements from the State Emergency Management are that a city or county has 60 days to submit a declaration application to the state, once the declaration has been made.

The Caliente City Council made the declaration July 23. Stever has encouraged the city to submit the required paperwork with the intent to receive state assistance.

He explained the county might also declare an emergency, but then the questions become, “How much can you contribute, and what your obligations are.” Therefore, Stever recommended the county not declare an emergency, but rather state they would be willing to help in whatever ways they could.

Commissioner Paul Mathews moved the county not declare an emergency and in discussions that followed, Caliente floodplain manager Ken Dixon said the 2,000 cubic yards that moved through the wash just last week, is fairly normal maintenance for city crews, “the problem is we still have that other 8,000 cubic yards to deal with.”

Mathews expressed concern that if the county also declared an emergency, “the work and the auditing we would suffer, and the potential benefit, is way out of balance. Looking over the whole scope and nature of the thing, I don’t think it’s wise for the county to go down that road. It’s marginal at best.”

Commission chair Kevin Phillips, former mayor of Caliente, said the County was indeed interested in helping Caliente, and it was his desire that the county seek funding to fix the immediate problems in the wash. “We have long-term problems, that each of our communities have regarding occasional flooding that we can’t solve right now, but we can work on the specific problem at hand.”

Commissioner Adam Katschke said he thought the emergencies faced by Caliente were sufficient to be declared to the state by the county.

Commissioner Paul Donohue said he felt it is necessary to clean out built up material in the wash, but a county emergency declaration does not have to be done for that to happen.

Dixon said some clearing has taken place, with about 1,500 yards having already been moved to a site at the Industrial Park.

He said, “If we don’t get that material out of the wash, the next big event will have serious impacts.”

Commissioners said they would look to see what funds they might have to help pay the county road department to clean up in Meadow Valley wash.

County road supervisor Shane Cheeney said he had heard NDOT is planning to clean out some of the material under the U.S. 93 bridge at the south end of town, but did not know the date.