Flood Wall Plans Continue Despite Plant Closure

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BLOOMSBURG -- In just a few months, the Windsor Foods plant in Bloomsburg will close, taking with it 160 jobs. But according to Columbia County commissioners, plans for a $29 million flood wall outside the closing plant will continue.

"If we don't protect that property, it makes it very difficult to market it. If it's protected, we can attract some other business that could find that property suitable," said Columbia County Commissioner Dave Kovach.

Kovach said the plan is to build a U-shaped wall around Windsor Foods and another plant. That would allow that plant and whoever would takeĀ over Windsor Foods to continue operating in floods.

Not everyone in Bloomsburg is happy with those plans. Some people in Bloomsburg said it is a waste of taxpayer money.

"It's fine if they protect the industries, but what about the families who live in the flood area? What are we supposed to do," Charlie Beltz asked.

Charlie Beltz and his wife had almost seven feet of water inside their house during the flood of 2011. He and others believe the town should build a flood wall to protect them instead of the factories.

"It's a waste of money. Build a wall around the whole west end. Protect us all or none," Bill DiFebo said.

"They should put a flood wall over here by fishing creek and do something by the river so that the lower end of town here is not hit," said Joanne Hess.

The Federal Economic Development Administration and the state's Commonwealth Financing Authority both tell Newswatch 16 they are still on board to fund the $29 million project to protect the factories.

"If we don't take advantage of this opportunity, then we know what will happen, nothing," Kovach said.

Columbia County commissioners said the flood wall project will take about two years to finish. As of now, there is no new owner lined up for the Windsor Foods site.