CHERRY CREEK - Chairman Ken Chase and his officers were unanimously re-elected to lead the Conewango Watershed Commission into the new year when board members met for the first time in 2010.
Supporting officers are Lenny Brainaird, vice chairman; Tim Dye, secretary; and Herbert Nobles, treasurer.
Chase, highway superintendent for the town of Cherry Creek for 16-years, is recognized for his "Roll up your sleeves boys and we'll get down to business" at his monthly Commission meetings.
Insert shows Ken Chase, Chairman and long time member of the Conewango Watershed Commission, reelected with his officers for the new year. Photo shows the Commissions’ large dam on the Elm Creek Rd north of East Randolph. This is one of two dams on the Elm Creek Rd that have controlled Elm Creek for more than 40 years.
P-J photos by Jack Berger
The 46-year old Commission is responsible for building, operation and maintenance of nine flood control dams in Chautauqua and Cattaraugus counties - five in Cattaraugus county and four in Chautauqua county.
While younger generations today admire the beautiful lakes and enjoy picnicking and fishing, few have any idea of the purpose of the dams and their tremendous service to the flood plain residents in the Commissions' flood control program.
Few in the younger generations remember the mid-sixties when Elm Creek in the East Randolph area flooded and residents ended up with three to four feet of water in front of the East Randolph post office. Or when Randolph's Battle Creek went over its banks nearly flooding the VanSlyke nursing home.
Neither stream has overflowed its banks since two dams were constructed on Elm Creek Rd and the dam on Battle Creek on the Bowen Rd.
One of the unusual projects in the Watershed's programs was the clearing the famous Dredge, a 13-mile ditch from Kent Switch to Waterboro, that was dug in 1886 not only to relieve flooding but to make available to farmers the rich muck lands along its banks.
While the State funded the digging of the Dredge they failed to allot funds for any maintenance program. It became derelict and remained so until the Commission tackled the job of renovation.
Clearing the Dredge has given recreation people 13-miles of beautiful canoeing and boating along the Cattaraugus-Chautauqua county's boundary line the last few summers.
Opening this unique waterway and clearing the Little Conewango to the south makes it possible for boaters to travel from Cherry Creek to the Allegany River, an unusual trek on a warm summer day.
The 10-man Commission is made up of individuals with a variety of backgrounds, including leaders like the
later Denton Mosher, present Commission member Herbert Nobles and a former advisor Lee Harkness.
Funding comes from state and federal grants, money and in-kind services from both counties and token funds to assist maintenance from townships bordering the Dredge.
It is a remarkable two-county and state involvement with officials from the state and the two counties often
attending Commission meetings to simply visit or to answer technical questions from members.
A problem, as with any endeavor, is the aging of the dams that now require routine inspections of dam structures, water flow, silt build up as well as scheduled mowing and maintenance, issues that are constantly addressed by Commission members.
"This Commission has done its job well the last 46 years," said Chairman Chase.