An historical first meeting officially took place between Alachua and Bradford Counties on March 20, 2017 in Starke when the two groups of commissioners met. A rally, small in size but strong in passion and dedication took place in front of the court house from 3:30 until about 6:20.
Official business consisted of the issue of medical billing services to Bradford County. That being concluded, a general discussion ensued of mutual good will and cooperation. Commissioner Hutchison immediately brought up the subject of the pending phosphate mine and again expressed the board’s strong concerns for the dangers it presented to Alachua County and all environs downriver. He also repeated the offer of assistance in revising Bradford LDRs or in any other topic regarding the mine permit.
Commissioner Pinkoson strayed from the mine topic, but it was revisited by Chairman Cornell, who again offered to share with Bradford County any Alachua County resources in confronting the mine issue. Bradford County commissioners carefully, politely and totally distanced themselves from any commitment to accept the offers. Chris Bird of the Alachua County Environmental Protection Department was present and recognized, but did not officially speak.
In spite of the lack of commitment on the part of Bradford County, after the meeting Chairman Ken Cornell unofficially expressed optimism that progress would be made and positive action would be taken, perhaps in the near future. Your writer is pleased to hear this, because in the past Commissioner Cornell has proven to usually be correct in his predictions.
The joint meeting generated a great deal of interest and the room was filled and all seats taken. Several OSFR members were present, including Jane Blaise, Walter Bickmeyer, Billie Jo Benedict and your historian, who also spoke against the mine.
Sashia Rudoph Chris Mericle Courtney Snyder Becky Parker
Mark Frasier Carol Mosley Steve Piecznik
Comments by OSFR historian Jim Tatum.
-A river is like a life: once taken, it cannot be brought back-