SHERIDAN — While the landslides on Goose Creek near Sheridan Junior High School and Kendrick Park don’t present an emergency, the city of Sheridan and Sheridan County School District 2 have continued collaborating to find a lasting solution to the problem.
The landslide potential in the area dates back to the 1970s, public works director Lane Thompson estimated.
The hill near SJHS showed sliding in fall 2010 and SCSD2 hired a contractor to construct a pile and lagging wall to stop the shifts.
A second shift forced SCSD2 to construct driven rock piles, for which construction workers drill holes in the hillside and pack rocks tightly into the holes. The rocks are designed to add enough coefficient of friction to stop the hill from sliding, but the land shifted again in April 2017.
Both Thompson and emergency management coordinator Bruce Edwards inspected the damage to determine the risk. While the slides did not pose an imminent threat to the community or school district, something more permanent needs to be done in the area.
A group of emergency service personnel and other stakeholders in Sheridan County completed a Threat and Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment through the Federal Emergency Management Agency in October. Landslides ranked as a “high” risk for the area, but fell behind wildland fires, lightning, winter storms and flooding in terms of greatest risk.
Thompson, determined to find a permanent solution, said that might mean looking beyond local entities for the most experienced professional available to address landslides.
Thompson, in conjunction with SCSD2 facilities director Mathers Heuck and city project manager Joe Schoen, will work through the process to hire a company to lead the design and construction of a project to address the slides.
To ensure completeness of the project, Thompson plans to hire a secondary company to audit the work of the initial company.
Funding is the biggest hurdle facing the city and school district. Because of the unforeseen sliding that occurred in the spring of 2017, Thompson is scrambling to acquire funding for the project.
He reached out to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Army Corp of Engineers and “any agency (he) could get to listen.” When those options failed, he turned to the State Loan and Investment Board.
Thompson, following Sheridan City Council’s approval, will submit an application for a State Loan and Investment Board Clean Water State Revolving Fund loan. A project memo said SLIB staff is working with the city to add the “Emergency Hillslides Stabilization Project” to the Feb. 1, 2018, SLIB agenda.
The application asks for a $2.5 million loan with 50 percent principal forgiveness. Depending on the outcome of the loan application, funds might be pulled from other capital investment projects, pushing back city construction projects. Limited, if any, funding will come from SCSD2.
“Since it doesn’t affect the students’ learning, there might not be emergency funding, but there are other sources the school district has,” Heuck said. “If there’s an immediate threat, we might be able to get some emergency funding from the state.”
Edwards has ensured emergency management agencies remain aware of the situation but, despite moisture posing the largest threat to the hillside, believes there to be no elevated cause for concern at this time.