December 18, 2015
After you read the article below, think about the proposed Stanton Springs land sale deal, and ask yourself, is it worth selling $6,560,000+ of land to a developer to reap $836,000? That’s an 87% loss of our money.
12 years ago the citizens of Jasper County attended a BOC meeting to stop the BOC from signing an agreement with Newton County to build the Bear Creek Reservoir. The meeting lasted over 5 hours, most of which was taken up in public comments and listening to Tommy Craig’s and Frank Sherrill’s propaganda.
Bear Creek Reservoir: To Be or Not To Be
|Susan Jacobs, Thursday, December 18, 2015|
|to read the entire article, click the link below|
It was standing room only Monday evening prior to a 4-1 decision of the Jasper County Commission to postpone a vote on the Bear Creek Reservoir cooperative agreement between Newton County and Jasper County.
More than 100 concerned residents were present to prove the power in numbers for the meeting which turned out to be more of a public hearing—almost five hours worth.
The proposed agreement includes the construction of a reservoir and water treatment plant to be located at Bear Creek in Newton County while forming a partnership with Jasper County and the Jasper County Water & Sewer Authority.
Tommy Craig, attorney for the Newton County Commission, and Frank Sherrill of Hightower Consulting Engineers, representing the Jasper County Water & Sewer Authority, made slide show presentations on the proposed agreement.
“It makes no difference to me economically whether Jasper County participates or not. My fees are the same regardless,” said Mr. Craig.
He said that studies of Newton and Jasper counties show shortages of water in both counties within the next 50 years. Demographic projections for Newton forecast a population of 361,000 by 2050 and 61,000 for Jasper which will significantly increase the need for viable water resources.
“The preferred alternative to meet water demands is Bear Creek,” said the attorney.
“Newton County is in the position to build this reservoir without help from anyone else. We can do it on our own,” said the attorney.
Mr. Sherill’s presentation focused on the feasibility of Jasper’s participation in the reservoir project.
Some 29 residents, many of them from Turtle Cove, tried to convey their concerns within the designated three minute allotment of time.
“We just want facts discussed before a vote is taken,” said Mr. Bernard.
It was suggested that the commission and authority were trying to “rush the project” without notifying the general public first. References were made to a “secret” meeting of the JCWSA, Jasper County and Newton County commissions on Nov. 24 in Covington.
When asked by Jane McGinnis who was at that meeting, Mr. Craig said he didn’t know who, in particular, was there from Jasper.
Lou DuFresne, president of the Jackson Lake Homeowners Association, questioned Mr. Craig as to the status of the application and how Newton County would be funding the project.
Conflict of interest issues were raised with members of the Jasper County commission and water authority while others questioned the distribution of power in the agreement.
“Why are we paying 25 percent when the population projections show we’ll only be at 15 percent of the project?” asked Mary Patrick.
There were suggestions that Mr. Craig was using this project as a means of lining his own pocket by producing numerous questions about similar projects with which he was previously involved.
Although the proposed agreement appeared to have detractors, optimists had their say, too.
“I’m a cheerleader for this project. We need water,” Bob Harden said.
Economic Development Authority board member Steve Jordan addressed the need for economic growth in the county. “We need to attract industry to assist our tax base and in order to do that we have to have something to offer,” he said. “Right now we don’t have anything to offer but dirt.”
Pro, con or neutral the overwhelming majority of residents wanted more information about the agreement before a vote of the commission was made.
“Most of us just want the facts, not that we’re against it,” Bob Haug said.
When all was said and done by the public Monday evening a majority vote postponed action on the agreement until the February 2 meeting of the commission.
The commission also voted to solicit volunteers to serve on the citizens’ council in order to resolve Bear Creek concerns by advertising in The Monticello News. Interested persons are asked to submit letters or visit the county commission office prior to January 5.
Some of the same deal makers for Bear Creek Reservoir are now on board for the Stanton Springs land deal and tell us it’s the best they can do. Keep your eyes and ears open and watch where the facts lead.
Citizens, be informed and stay informed! Only by being informed can the citizens understand what is being done and talked about, and then press our officials to make good decisions for everyone in Jasper County. That is our goal with the Taxdogs blog.