MIAMI — This was not your everyday birthday present.
The LEAD Agency, which has been among the many agencies battling U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe's plans to include a measure in the National Defense Authorization Act that dramatically affects Miami and parts of Ottawa County.
The billboard, located at the intersection of 2nd Ave. SE and Main Street, went up on Inhofe’s 85th birthday, Nov. 17.
The purpose of Sec. 6021of Inhofe’s amendment is supposed to clarify federal authorities and responsibilities relating to the Pensacola Dam and reservoir and specifically, the conservation pool and flood pool.
That would drastically affect Miami and its ongoing flooding issues.
The billboard says “Senator Inhofe: We didn’t elect you to flood us. When Grand Lake levels are high, our community suffers. Call 202-224-4721 demand the removal of section 6021 from the NDAA. Learn more at leadagency.org.”
“It’s a request,” said Rebecca Jim, the LEAD Agency’s executive director. “What we found is people are not mad about it. They get that we need people to ask our senator to take his amendment out, that can only harm us, harm many, many people. It doesn’t have to be there.
“The long term damage it will do is heartbreaking.”
It was kind of a happy coincidence of things, said Martin Lively of the LEAD Agency.
“We (the Waterkeeper Alliance) had been looking for some way to get the word out. The Waterkeeper Alliance had been wanting to publicize this amendment on a national level as well.
“Between our thinking about it and their thinking about it, somehow the idea of a billboard came up. The only problem was there was nothing available. As it turned out, our landlord had that billboard and he said ‘you can cover it up because I just had to start playing flood insurance and didn’t used to have to.’”
The space was donated to the agencies and the new billboard was designed and placed by Allen Signs.
“I am glad that groups like the LEAD Agency are doing what they are doing,” Miami city manager Dean Kruithof said. “It shows that we are not the only ones fighting this fight. I think the sentiment of the billboard is exact. Instead of worrying about the flooding here, they are more worried about keeping lake levels up on south Grand Lake.”