Ware’s Creek dredging begins in June?
I’ll believe when I see it.
That is, when they stick the first shovel into the slop off of Virginia Drive, scoop it out and get down to actual work.
Or when Pat Glass and Bill Evers jump off the bridge into the creek.
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That’s coming from Glass, the doyenne of Manatee County politics.
Back in the 1980s, when she was a county commissioner and Evers was “Boss Hog,” Bradenton’s mayor, discussions about fixing Ware’s Creek began picking up steam.
Evers said they actually started when he was a councilman before that.
Anyway, anticipating the long, drawn out bureaucratic battle lying ahead, Glass said she made a crazy promise.
“I told Evers we’d be there when they start, that we’d hold hands and jump off the bridge together,” she said.
“As big as my tush is, we’d have our own tsunami,” Evers joked.
That’d be some ceremony.
Maybe Charlie Hunsicker, the county’s unflappable director of environmental protection who shepherded the $45 million project, should join them.
Hizzoner Wayne Poston, too.
After 28 years of wrangling with bureaucracies from here to Tallahassee and to Washington, D.C., the end is in sight.
“I just wasn’t sure whether it’d be in our lifetime. Or mine,” Glass kidded.
Evers is 76.
“Seems like this thing has been going on forever,” he said.
It does, indeed.
I remember the excitement generated when Glass, Hunsicker and former county commissioner Gwen Brown led a team to Capitol Hill to seek federal funding and succeeded in getting a $13 million commitment from Uncle Sam.
That was at least 10 years ago.
It’s a span fraught with maddening frustration.
Funding cuts by the governor.
Foot dragging by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Friction from competing interests of federal, state and local regulatory agencies.
I read one Herald story concerning the outrage over the potential loss of $5 million in federal funding for the Ware’s Creek project, then in its 14th year of waiting for the green light.
It was 1995.
“When you’re dealing with the infrastructure, it’s a bureaucratic process and you’ve got to keep it alive,” Glass said.
A little football strategy helped the Ware’s Creek cause, too, when allies were being sought in the halls of Congress and the Florida Legislature.
“When there’s a rejection, fall back and do an end run,” Glass said. “It works.”
With hurricane season around the corner, this flood-control project needs to get going.
“It’s a race against our Katrina,” Glass said.
“This is not a pork barrel issue by any means. This is about public safety, health and wel- fare.”
So when the dredging begins at last, it will be a memorable day for Glass and Evers.
The others, too.
Even if they don’t jump off the bridge.
“I think I’ll just watch,” Evers said.
Mannix About Manatee, is about people and issues in Manatee County. Call Vin Mannix at 745-7055or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include a phone number for verification purposes.