The Bradford County BOCC had on the agenda tonight, Aug. 17 2017, the mine item regarding the hiring of a consultant to assess the pending mine permit application and the troublesome LDRs. Although there was no vote on the mine permit, nor there will there be until several public hearings take place, the meeting generated intense interest from as far south as Sarasota and Mulberry, and from north and west as O’Brian, and Hahira, Georgia.
Some put the crowd at 130 and the speakers at 50 or 60. No one supported the mine, and those who opposed it were sometimes in tears, and sometimes armed with facts and science.
Luella Phillips of Mulberry gave an unforgettable testimony as to what it is like to live among gypstacks, and near the infamous New Wales “water loss incident.” For this term, Mosaic wins hands down the euphemism of the century. She and others also gave testimony to the ineffectiveness of the DEP, which, we recall, instead of apologizing for their failed secrecy, simply said they were following the law, and did nothing illegal. They didn’t mention ethics.
Chris Bird and Ken Cornell from Alachua County were present, and Commissioner Cornell gave an impelling oratory with a strong and clear message. Attorney John Middleton pointed out how the consulting team to be hired lacked the proper credentials needed for the task at hand, namely that they had no experience with water issues, which here is of the greatest concern.
President Pam Board member Cindy Noel Excellent speaker Walter Bickmeyer,
Geologist Jim Gross, OSFR advisor and Executive Director of Florida Defenders of the Environment, also spoke with a firm message as a scientist, and also offered his services if needed. In addition to Jim Gross, OSFR was well represented by President Pam Smith, and board members Cindy Noel, Treasurer Mike Roth, Vice President Terry Phelen, Jane Blais and your historian. Walter Bickmeyer, Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson, Advisor Jim Pruitt, Kristin Rubin, Lucy Anstey and other members were also present.
Suwannee RiverKeeper John Quarterman Becky Parker, helped start CAPM Brack Barker, defender of the river
Strikingly different at this meeting was the large number of locals and Bradford County residents who appeared before the commissioners to tell them that they did not want, and definitely did not want a mine in their county.
inimitable Whitey Markle VP Terry Phelan OSFR advisor Jim Gross OSFR advisor Jim Pruitt
The importance of this cannot be underestimated, and anyone who has been present at these BoCC meetings during the past year could not help but notice the spark of interest and the attention shown by the commissioners as they heard from locals, eighty-year olds and young people alike, concerned for the future of Bradford County.
Alachua Com. Ken Cornell Karen Chadwick of many talents Kate Ellison, Mark Lyon LDR expert
We would give special recognition to Chair Danny Riddick who so graciously allowed several speakers extra time, never once showing impatience or apathy, and to all the commissioners for their kind attention, during a long and often repetitive session. They treated the crowd much better than a very few who were disrespectful at the end of the session. Thankfully, they were not regulars and not from our group. Disrespect has no place at these meetings and serves only to counteract our good endeavors.
Tracy Marinello Larry Carol Burton Carol Mosley Deanna Mericle
Thanks also to Merrillee who addressed the opposition group after the long meeting and summarized the situation very well and put it in perspective for some of the many newcomers, who had trouble understanding it all. These people, mostly local and thus especially valuable to our cause, are now becoming aware of what is happening and know their feelings, but are unsure of how to express them or the best procedure to follow, and what to expect next. Merrillee’s leadership gave them assurance and guidance as to the process and the task still ahead.
Stasia Rudolph Dave Wilcox Attorney John Middleton Louella Phillips
Thanks go also to Courtney Snyder who made the trip to Lawtey to witness the city council unanimously pass a resolution in opposition to the mine. OSFR, Citizens Against Phosphate Mining (CAPM) and Suwannee St Johns Sierra Club North Florida Working Group had been working several weeks to achieve this, and the fruition came on the day of the Bradford Meeting.
Andrew Mele, SC Lucy Anstey Kate Gallagher Summer Small sang a song
Thanks to those three groups and to all who attended the rally before the meeting, and especially all those who spoke to the commissioners, some driving four hours each way. We all came away from this meeting with the feeling that our voices were heard, and we are encouraged that the Bradford commissioners are understanding the importance of this issue held now in their hands.
Comments by OSFR historian Jim Tatum.
-A river is like a life: once taken, it cannot be brought back-