Dear Editor: My wife and I moved to our 65-acre tract of land located on the Zetta Lee Johnson Road and HV Chandler Road in 1986.

The Georgia Renewable Power (GRP) plant is literally in our backyard, six-tenths of a mile from GRP. We were here before Parallam, MacMillan Bloedel, Trusjoist, GRP and now biomass. We have had to put up with all this and why. We later sold some of our land and now have 47 acres. We worked hard and have done without to pay for this land while raising our children and taking what life has thrown at us. But we are happy with our land. My family and I are life-long citizens of Madison County.

We choose to stay here for a reason; that reason is called the country. We are a rural region not a town or city with factories and such. But it goes much deeper than that. I can't describe all that the countryside God created has to offer. It is enormous. We purchased our land so that we could have a small farm if we wanted, go walking through the woods, deer hunt, sit on the front porch, eat a peaceful and quiet breakfast on the backporch, have a garden.

Oh, did I say have a garden? I have grown sweet potatoes and had a garden for over 30 years. With all the threats of runoff and the air pollution I am having second thoughts about having a garden anymore. I irrigate from the stream near my garden spot. Now we are afraid of the water. We have a dog and cats that have to hear and breathe the pollution from GRP.

Can anyone give me a legitimate reason why we should give up our lifestyle? Why should this neighborhood have to go through the battle that they are now going through? Why should there have to be a coalition group formed to fight for our health? Why should I have to turn up my television so I can hear it over the plant? Why should I be awakened in the middle of the night by the plant? Why should I have to listen to this plant at all? I have heard that it will be quiet. "Quiet," according to the Merriam Webster Dictionary, is "enjoyed in peace and relaxation" and "free from noise or uproar." I have yet to experience quiet from GRP. I don't care how quiet it may get or be I do not want to hear it at all.

When I turn off my lights at night, I still have lights in my back door from GRP. When I walk out my backdoor I hear and see GRP. Why should I have to step aside because of someone's "gung ho" idea that this is good for our county? What is my biggest expense when I pay property taxes? School. Is this the reason someone thought GRP would be good that it would bring in more money? I find it hard to believe that we needed that plant for tax money. Look at all the subdivisions in this county. Look at all the chicken houses in this county. Do they not pay taxes?

Does anyone get my point? If I wanted to sell my property, who would buy it? It will be a cold day in hell before we should be made to step aside and let industy take the place of what we have all worked hard to pay for. We will not give up our Country living because someone has a "gung ho" idea that made someone a little richer. This "gung ho" idea is at our (the residents surrounding GRP) expense. If this county must have industry to survive, then get off somewhere away from us and do it. I may have said some things that others may not understand.

Well, let a plant such as GRP be planted in your backyard and see what you think. I may not have said everything but hopefully I have made my point. GRP is another headache to deal with when we all could be doing something more productive.

Sincerely,

Ted Fowler

Colbert

(1) comment

Virginia Moss

I know it's a cliche, but I really do feel your pain, Mr. Fowler. I live in northwest Madison County, far from and upwind of the GRP plant, but I'm as angry as you are for the same reasons. We have a toxic entity in our midst, threatening our health even as far away as I am. This on top of the toxic soup already out there from thousands of other sources near and far (particularly Atlanta).

Some years ago, the county was in the process of laying out a master land use plan. It was decided that the highway 72 corridor and the south end of the county would be dedicated to business/industrial development since it was closest to Athens and had the rail line. Such development would reduce the property tax burden on county residents, many of whom complain about property taxes. Were you aware of this? Did you voice your opinion on that? Was a coalition formed to fight that concept?

Madison County's millage rate is quite high relative to the very low rates of Athens and Oconee County because they have more residents, more business and more industrial development. Do the residents of Madison County want high property taxes and peace and quiet or do they want low property taxes in exchange for part of the county getting less peaceful and quiet? We can't have our cake and eat it, too.

This is a lesson in paying attention at all times to what governments are doing at every level. It takes time and effort that is in very short supply, but if we don't (each and all of us), we end up where we are now. We should start by voting for the person, not the party! And then don't trust that person. Communicate your opinions regularly to them so they'll know what to do. Watch for corruption, self-serving and immorality. Speak up; if you see something, say something right away not later after the fact.

And keep watching. How? Reliable sources of journalism! Learn how to discern what is supported by truth, not what individuals want to hear; not what anyone finds fun and exciting; not what everyone else around them seems to be sourcing. Without real, professional, unbiased journalism democracy will die. They go hand in hand. Support the truly professional members of the journalism community by subscribing regardless of the cost, even donating; advertise with them if you can. They are your eyes and ears because you can't do it alone.

Thank you, Mr. Fowler, for speaking up.

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