FEMA takes new look at Bald Knob

By ANDREW TANGEL State Journal Staff Writer Published:

Federal Emergency Management Agency officials returned to Franklin County Monday under an appeal to reconsider the agency's decision denying relief funds for flood-ravaged Bald Knob.

Judge-Executive Teresa Barton said the two FEMA officials cataloging the 10-mile stretch along Stony Creek that was damaged in late August's flash flood haven't yet indicated to her what their decision might be. She said she expects to hear some sort of answer later today.

"I remain hopeful. I'm encouraged that they're here," Barton said, "but really, I can't make any guess as to where they stand at this point."

No matter what FEMA rules, local relief efforts will continue at least into next month.

Should the appeal to FEMA by Kentucky politicians fail, Debbie Penn, who compiled hundreds of photos depicting the flood's wrath and letters articulating Bald Knob residents' collective grief, will make an appeal to President Bush directly.

Penn had planned to mail Bush the booklet but she instead wants to hand-deliver it to the chief executive when he visits Lexington early next month for a fund-raiser.

"I just want to hand him the book and hope that he takes a look," Penn said. She also plans to send copies to U.S. Reps. Hal Rogers and Ernie Fletcher.

Organizing another benefit festival for Oct. 17 and 18 in River View Park is Steve Perkins, owner of Joey Dee's Pawn Shop. While he has had trouble luring vendors, he said he has booked five bands and enlisted the support of NASCAR driver Tony Stewart, who has donated souvenirs for a charity auction.

The festival won't generate the hundreds of thousands of dollars needed to rebuild Bald Knob, he concedes, but the weekend event will provide flood victims with solace.

"Whatever we do isn't going to replace what they've lost, but at least they'll know they haven't lost the love and support of their community," Perkins said.

Perkins is trying to find a major sponsor to foot the estimated $5,000-6,000 bill for bands, equipment and other logistics. Once the festival is paid for, he said, all proceeds will go to Bald Knob. "I don't want a dime coming out of gate receipts," he said.

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