Lenord Robinson raised valid questions about the ethics of accepting federal funds to fix a Warren bridge that was damaged during Tropical Storm Irene, at the Warren Select Board this week. He wants the town to reject the funds.

A minor crack appeared in the bridge abutment on Plunkton Road in Warren during flooding associated with the storm. Then Plunkton Road became the only way to get from The Valley and points northward down to Granville, Hancock and Rochester to the south because all the roads leading in and out of that southern valley were compromised or washed away.

For several weeks the Class 3 Plunkton Road and its bridge bore the brunt of all traffic, including relief vehicles, heavy equipment, residents, volunteers, commuters, etc. That traffic took a toll on the bridge, which may or may not have been structurally sound prior to the storm.

The town applied to the Federal Emergency Management Agency for funds to rebuild the bridge and is qualified to receive such funding – even though there may be a legitimate question about whether the bridge might last another 30 years without repairs.

Robinson urged the select board to reject federal dollars because the town does not need them and because he does not want to see those dollars spent in his town when other towns may be in worse shape. And, he points out, the federal government is “bankrupt.”

That’s a fair position and an honest, compassionate and humane position to take. And probably the morally correct position to take.

The select board, arguing its future fiscal responsibility to taxpayers, felt it was prudent to take the federal FEMA funds for the bridge. And the board may also be right. Should a town reject the bridge funds to let those funds go to harder hit towns? Warren’s own neighbors to the south and the north were very hard hit by Tropical Storm Irene.

In the rubric of FEMA fund calculations and allocations, there is no bright line that ensures that if Warren rejects the FEMA money, that Rochester or Granville or Hancock or Waterbury or Moretown or Duxbury or Roxbury, etc. would then get the funds. There’s no way to know that Warren’s acceptance or rejection of FEMA funds means some other harder hit town or state would get those dollars.

Robinson’s words are hard to ignore.