An Athens man whose home was partially crushed by a falling boulder in March expressed gratitude Friday for intervention by U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, to help get the rest of the rock, still on a ridge top near the home, safely removed.

"We're really pleased and really thankful that Sherrod Brown and his office played a role in advocating on our behalf," said Tim Pfaff, of 20 Fort St.

On the night of March 20, a huge sandstone boulder, estimated to weigh more than 100 tons, dislodged itself from the ridgetop opposite the home owned by Pfaff and his wife, Diane. The rock came crashing downthe slope, flattening a car owned by the Pfaffs, destroying part of their attached garage, and breaking a water main under the street. No one was injured.

The Pfaffs have sued their insurance company, which has refused to pay for the damage caused by the rock. The company claims the couple's policy does not cover damage caused by "earth movement."

In May, residents of the neighborhood came to Athens City Council, urging city officials to take action to get rid of the part of the boulder that still remains perched on the ridgetop. The city indicated only that it would consider the situation.

Recently, however, the Pfaffs got word that the federal Office of Surface Mining and Reclamation is ready to released mine-reclamation funding to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, to pay for removing what's left of the boulder.

This is allowable, because the site was once a clay mine, producing clay for a nearby brickworks that is now defunct.

"After working with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, the Pfaff's contacted Sen. Brown's office," related Brown aide Lauren Kulik in an email Friday. "Last week, one of Sen. Brown's caseworkers contacted the Office of Surface Mining and requested an expedited review process for the Pfaff's application. Late yesterday, the Office of Surface Mining approved the funding for ODNR to move forward."

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