The regular meeting of the county commissioners took place today, Dec. 3, 2017 in Starke, with the Bradford County business the topic of discussion. The mine was not on the agenda.
Alan Toth, documentary filmmaker with the University of California Berkeley, was in attendance and filmed the meeting. He is making a documentary about phosphate mining in Florida, focusing on the resistance to the proposed HPS II phosphate mine.
New in the commission is that Ross Chandler has rotated to chairman of the board. Today we welcomed Commissioner Chandler to his new position.
Not to let the commissioners forget about the serious mine issue facing them, your historian was the sole speaker before them today. The words left with them are as follows:
Regarding the hiring of a consultant, OSFR has no position, but speaking for myself, I do not see any reason to spend money for this. I have no ax to grind with the consulting company, but they have no experience with mining. You were elected to make decisions for the county, and if you spend a few hours Googling phosphate mining you can learn enough to make a decision. That is your job and you don’t need to pay someone else to do it for you.
More importantly, that the county is considering accepting money from HPS II to pay or partially pay for a consulting firm, is totally inappropriate. You have carefully distanced yourselves from accepting outside assistance from Alachua Co. and the North Central Florida Regional Planning Council, yet you are considering accepting funds from the most interested party. This is unethical and unacceptable.
I would like to leave you with one more thought. We have heard arguments supporting the mine which say ”all we have in Hamilton County is the PCS mine.” Or, “Mosaic is the only employer we have down here.” Stop and ask yourself, why is that? What else is left after a mine comes in? And in the case of Hamilton County, where the phosphate is now running out, what will happen then? What is left? If we think of our future, we will not want a mine. If you think the mine will make Starke a boom town, please go visit White, Springs, visit Mulberry to see how booming they are.
No company has the right to put at risk our natural resources. Phosphate companies get permits to draw down our aquifer and dry up our wells and our springs, and they have accidents that pour poison into our drinking water. They do not have the right to contaminate our world in their quest to make money. No product that they produce is more valuable than our springs and rivers. We need our natural resources more than we need phosphate and fertilizer.
Comments by OSFR historian Jim Tatum.
-A river is like a life: once taken, it cannot be brought back-