Young Leaders for Wild Florida is an environmental leadership summer program for Alachua County teens aged 16 – 19, directed by Oscar Psychas and hosted by the Alachua Conservation Trust. We did a post about them a little over a year ago (see “Young Leaders For Wild Florida.”) Oscar and his group arrived just minutes late, and when they proceeded to fill out a speaker card, Chairman Durrance spoke up and said that no speaker cards could be accepted once the meeting had begun. As one who attends many, many board of county commissioners meetings, I can attest that this is a bit unusual.
Naomi Richards Ellie Pfahler Mia Borkoski Anna Mavrodieva
But in fairness, we should explain that the Bradford commissioners recently had their patience tried with several long meetings regarding taxes for fire protection, and at one of those, the commissioners declared the rule of cutting off cards at 6:30 when the meeting begins. We might add that last night’s (June 20, 2019) agenda was exceptionally long, and Oscar’s group was 15 strong.
Luckily Oscar was patient and did not take his group out, rather they remained quietly standing in the corner, as most seats were taken. Also luckily, Tom Germano was addressing the Board about other issues and made a plea for a bending of the rule, as they had traveled from out of county and most likely was not aware of the rule. And they were kids and one could bet that none of them had ever been to a county commissioners’ meeting before.
With a tough appearance but heart of gold, Chairman Durrance allowed them to pick four to speak from the group. And speak they did: they wrote their own messages and each one was a request to the commissioners to stop the mine. We have seen mature adults address commissioners with voices quaking with fear, but not these young people. The reasons were sound, logical and truthful and delivered with poise and professionalism.
Did the commissioners listen? We hope so.
Thanks go to these young people out learning about environmental stewardship and civic action; thanks to Oscar Psychas for directing them, Ken Cornell for encouraging them and to Alachua Conservation Trust for hosting them.
And thanks to Tom Germano for speaking out.
On other issues regarding the mine last night, Carol Mosley and Paul Still both spoke on a similar theme: Bradford County needs outside help handling this mine permit application. Paul was very generic in nature, suggesting they get an attorney from outside, but Carol gave a history of specifics where she pointed out procedures and actions which she judged as unacceptable and non-productive.
Alachua County Commissioner Ken Cornell appeared still again, one more time, offering the commissioners assistance from Alachua County. Still again, one more time, his offer appears to have been ignored.
Comments by OSFR historian Jim Tatum.
-A river is like a life: once taken, it cannot be brought back-