Dear Editor: Madison County has proven to be a perfect site for a classic case of environmental injustice. They chose us for a reason.

It is a shame that one of our own was the driving force behind this operation and I can’t help but assume he thought that we would not fight. This individual talks down to us with technical language and pretends to understand by responding with false statements and platitudes that make no sense. To compare the pollution from Georgia Renewable Power (GRP) to a car’s emissions is ridiculous and insulting. That is a form of environmental injustice.

In August, the injustice continued when our Board of Commissioners amended the noise ordinance. You may have missed that news, for it happened the same night as the “Little League” debacle. I begged the BOC not to amend the ordinance and to delay voting on it. We were told (on record) that amending the ordinance would “serve to let folks that might move to this area, to make them aware, that these certain activities that are in the amendment are permissible.” Later, I went back to review the video and it had been edited, removing everything I said except the last line. If you view the video, you will see me standing in front of the podium and hear my friend Ted Fowler talking. If I had known that they could alter recordings of a public meeting, I would have recorded it myself.

That moment poured gas on the fire of my fury.

Now, as we enter our seventh month with the beast, GRP, in our backyard, my fury continues to burn. Since that August meeting, the beast has polluted our environment with light, air, water and land pollution. Sure, the BOC is showing empathy for our situation now, but that doesn’t pay for the extensive (and expensive) water testing I will have to have performed. It doesn’t quiet the beast. It doesn’t sell my home. It doesn’t lower my taxes. To put me in a position where I have to spend money I don’t have to prove that they are polluting my property is environmental injustice.

There seems to be a lot more to GRP than just pollution. The lawsuits filed by investors and the RICO case indicate that this was a dirty deal from the get-go. Why are they given a pass on late payment of bills? I would like to receive the kind of grace they have been given on payment of bills. After all, Madison County went into serious debt to bring them here, the least they could do is pay up! I will wait to see what else will surface about this company, and I am confident that there is more to come. It is not difficult to dig up dirt on the other companies involved. Why would I trust a company that produces railroad ties, sells them to CSX, collects them, and sells the used railroad ties again? Why are we trusting a company that was involved in the Flint River crisis with our environment and our health? Why?

When the Clean Power Coalition held the meeting at the high school, we were accused of all sorts of treachery. As a group, we agreed that we would try to shield our local leadership from the public outcry. Our goal was not to publicly roast our leadership, but to present the truth about burning railroad ties. We wanted them to know what we had discovered and end the rumor that creosote is safe to breathe. In a private face-to-face conversation, I explained to a local politician that there would be no mic time for him or any of the reps. Lesson learned, put everything in print. GRP and National Salvage, were adamant that they would host a public meeting to refute our statements about burning railroad ties…I am waiting.

Madison County sits between two smoke stacks, 23 miles apart. No one is safe from the pollution. Our county has an enormous debt for the water line. Our taxes just went up, and the company that will buy the power generated by GRP is about to raise our rates. Home values in the area will plummet and we face serious health risks.

The beast has shattered our quality of life and replaced it with pollution in every form. We have been lied to repeatedly and admonished for wanting our peaceful country living. All for the almighty dollar.

I will fight with fury, for my home and yours. #mcproud,

Sincerely,

Gina Ward

Colbert

(2) comments

Virginia Moss

This is intensely infuriating! I thought Madison County was a decent place with decent leadership. All trust in county government is lost now; it does not matter who is there now or before. There's something about politics that corrupts. Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely. Makes me wonder how much all the leaders were paid off. Money corrupts, too. Disgusting!

James Cline

Well said Gina! The due diligence required for a business relationship is the responsibility of the local government when recruiting businesses to a community. Prior history and business dealings are easily discovered by an average citizen and should have raised red flags about Raymon Bean , GRP, and the numerous related corporate shell companies thereof. There are lawsuits, related businesses with questionable ethics, related businesses with environmental exploitation and these are just the things that are public! The IDA should be admonished and power should be removed. Management of the IDA shoulders the legal responsibilities of due diligence and their failures, lack of accountability and transparency to the Madison BOC and general public necessitates IMMEDIATE change in operation, personnel and management. Failure to do so is an admission of guilt and shows culpability and conspiracy to defraud the general public.

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