The Herald, Sharon,
PA Published Friday, April 9, 1999


Earthquake dry-well fund is running on empty

By Hal Johnson
Herald Writer

Despite generous contributions locally and from outside Mercer County, the county's effort to raise money for water wells left dry or contaminated after a Sept. 25 earthquake is falling several thousand dollars short of its need.

Mercer County Commissioner Cloyd E. "Gene" Brenneman updated Transfer Kiwanis Club members Thursday on the dry well fund and the requests for financial aid for property owners to dig new wells.

Aftershocks from the earthquake left 108 properties with well trouble, Brenneman said. Eighty three of them are in the Tanner Road area in West Salem and Greene townships.

According to a study by the U.S. Geological Survey and James Thompson, director of Mercer County Public Safety, the aftershocks shifted rocks so water left wells and came up in other places, Brenneman said.

Because property owners could not qualify for federal or state disaster aid, state Sen. Robert D. Robbins, Salem Township, R-50th District, state Rep. Rod E. Wilt, Sugar Grove Township, R-17th District, and Brenneman spearheaded the formation of an eight-member Mercer County Dry Well Committee. Donors could make contributions to a fund in Greenville Savings Bank and the committee would determine how the donated funds would be distributed.

Shenango Valley Foundation sent letters to the 108 property owners, whose wells were affected by the aftershocks. Fifteen of the property owners responded and all but one were in a location and in a financial situation that qualified for relief from the fund, Brenneman said.

A elderly woman, who had to pay back a $1,400 bank loan for her new wells, and an indigent couple, who owed a bank about $800 for their new well, had immediate needs, Brenneman said. The committee now is determining how to help the other 12 needy property owners, he said.

The committee needs about $15,000 in the fund to help all the property owners. With more than $5,000 now in the fund, matches from the Shenango Valley Foundation, and more donations "trickling in," the committee expects to have $11,000 to $12,000 in the fund in the fund, Brenneman said.

Contributions came from church groups and civic groups in Columbiana County in Ohio, Chautauqua, N.Y., and Montgomery County, Brenneman said. He expressed confidence that more donations will enable the fund to fill all the needs.

Brenneman and Thompson have been presenting programs on the earthquake aftershocks and the dry wells to groups and service clubs. Transfer Kiwanis Club, which started the fund with its $500 donation, presented an award to Brenneman and Thompson for their effort.

Contributions to the Mercer County Dry Well Fund still are being accepted. Donations can be mailed to: Pat Turner in care of state Rep. Rod E. Wilt District Office, 2 S. Mercer St., Greenville.

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Updated April 9, 1999
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