LOGAN COUNTY, Okla. (KFOR) – Out of options and facing flooding with every rainfall, a pair of Logan County landowners turned to News 4 for help.
Their story caught the attention of the state, who appropriated more than $200,000 to help.
Just north of the Oklahoma County line, a Logan County logjam has grown by logs and bounds for some time. It’s largely dammed up Deer Creek, and waterlogs a Waterloo Road bridge with most rainfalls.
The water has slowly been eating away at Mark Bruno and neighbor Kim Ziegelgruber’s land for years. They told KFOR calls for help had fallen on deaf ears.
“It comes down to money,” said Bruno. “But it needs to get fixed.”
Finding a fix though led to a standoff of sorts between Oklahoma and Logan County commissioners.
While the jam itself resides in Logan County, most of the resulting flooding is upstream in Oklahoma County, where commissioners once offered up to $25,000 to help fix the issue, says Commissioner Kevin Calvey.
That offer, though, was denied, says Logan County Commissioner Marven Goodman, because Logan County could’ve been on the hook for possibly double the amount.
“It’s not my county,” said Calvey in March 2021. “The Logan County commissioners need to take action and pay a minority of the cost to take care of it.”
“Everyone said, ‘Yes, it’s a terrible, devastating problem, we need to get it fixed.’ And they all sat on their thumbs,” added Kim.
So Kim and Mark called In Your Corner. Their first story aired almost exactly one year ago and caught the eye of the state.
Trey Lam with the Oklahoma Conservation Commission, Logan and Oklahoma County leaders and state legislators sought out a fix, with the state appropriating $250,000 to the project.
“The idea was that we just needed some funding that could be put in place,” said Trey Lam, with the Oklahoma Conservation Commission. “We could go out and assess the problem and then actually hire a contractor to go out and clear it out.”
Now, that work is underway.
News 4 popped back by the creek in March of this year, finding Cole Wilson with Longhorn Earthworks LLC hard at work.
“I’ve never done one quite this big,” said Cole. “But lots of experience coming into it.”
His goal was to remove the years worth of brush, branches and whatever else had been caught up underneath, in two to three weeks.
The project was a collaborative effort between Cole, county and state leaders.
“It was a massive logjam, and so it was detrimental to the bridge on Waterloo and causing damage,” said Geisette Greenwell, with the Logan County Conservation District. “It could be a structural collapse. So it was really important for us to try to come out here and assist the landowners.”
“It was completely new to us,” added Tammy Sawatzky, with the Oklahoma Conservation Commission. “But we do a lot of different construction jobs, and so we just kind of made some connections and made it happen.”
The before and after on the stretch of creek is night and day. But it was a statewide collaboration and the persistence of two landowners that finally opened the floodgates.
“One of those deals where the squeaky wheel finally got greased,” said Kim. “We’ll be able to start farming and resume and regular farm operations.”