The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)

March 30, 2009

Get the message?

Sunday, March 29, 2009 — In the circus of ongoing rhetoric about “the People’s Water” most of these statements should not be dignified by a comment but when a person of the stature of Albemarle Mayor Whit Whitley gets charged as having selfish motives for the city of Albemarle with his statement to Gov. Perdue we should realize that this whole mess has no merits.

Mayor Whitley made intelligent and well founded statements for the consideration of Gov. Perdue far from the “dog in the manger” yapping by the County Commissioners and their equally negative followers.

We could rightfully question the real motives behind the costly “jousting at the windmills” by all of these Don Quixote characters. The spending of county funds for legal services which was mere pocket change in the world of serious legal action but which could have been useful toward many of the needs of the county is one of the symptoms of poor wisdom by those elected to serve.

Does anyone realize that ALCOA has, and still is, following all applicable regulations as to hazardous materials, environmental impact, and all of the other legal matters involving the operation of these hydroelectric units as well as supplying the mountains of documents required by the federal authorities in the re-licensing procedures?

Asking for verification of such documents and steps is understandable by any citizen and also of any elected county board of commissioners from Stanly, Montgomery, Davidson, Rowan plus Anson and all other counties of NC and SC all the way to the coast. I would personally defend any such request for this documentation.

If it is the presence of toxic materials in the stream flow that has the naysayers upset, then lets look farther upstream into the headwaters of the Yadkin. Should we not ask if any sources of such toxic materials have been checked up there? How do these vigilantes explain how these terrible things purportedly dumped around Badin are supposedly found in High Rock reservoir, upstream of two concrete dams or in Tuckertown reservoir upstream of one concrete dam?

Many of us who have resided in Stanly County for over half a century would like to seriously ask our so-called county leaders if they are concerned with the depressed condition of the overall business climate around Albemarle including all of the industries that have closed down and left besides ALCOA? How much tax money are these long gone companies paying Stanly County as compared to ALCOA?

The current national economic crises is not the reason for the local industrial loss. It happened even in the best of economic times. Now, the climate is even more hostile and unappealing to any viable industry who would have pay scales in excess of twenty dollars an hour.

In my work as an industrial safety consultant I get to travel to other states. Some travel involves driving cross country by small towns with mid-sized industries. I have noticed these plants and mills have parking lots nearly full of employees’ cars.

During these same times, I have taken note that around Albemarle the only parking lots that are filled to near capacity are the hospital, Wal-Mart and the county offices. There may be a strong message in this observation.

One would hope that the commissioners and their booster club members might get this message if we read it to them very slowly.

Bill Garland