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Town Hall

The ground is saturated and the gardens lay waiting to dry out and be what they were planned to be.

Maybe we all hope to be what we were planned to be. What is that? I wasn’t ever meant to be a Boss or run a non-profit.

I wanted to be an artist. So what makes us change our path? And stay on that path for the decades we tread? I learned that listening was a gift so counseling came easy and became my life's first career. Speaking up and out was hard but necessary, for wrongs cannot be addressed without acknowledgement and this community, this corner of northeast Oklahoma had plenty of wrongs shout-worthy. Which is how LEAD Agency came to exist.

And that is why a post on a Facebook announcing a Town Hall got my attention this week.

We all got invited to the one the City officials are hosting on June 10 for those interested in the flooding issues in and round the City of Miami. Town Halls are the way people get to meet people in power and share ideas and voice concerns and ask the questions that lay with us. This is the opportunity marked on my calendar.

For nearly 2 decades the City has been in a fight of its life. It isn't cheap to win. It takes getting the legal team and keeping them for the long haul. NO MATTER WHAT. It means paying the big bucks to have the scientists needed to muscle through the technical material presented over the last few years during the relicensing procedure and be able to dispute their work. The City got both legal and technical experts to fight for Miami and it cost money. The way I see it, pay up or fail. And they have done it. City council meetings followed by the next, have requests for payment amounts that must be scary for a council member to see. The City gets this chance. That's it.

And at the Town Hall meeting we will get to meet their lawyers and the scientists and hear what has happened, what they have learned and ask questions. That's how a Town Hall works. They are there for us. It is our turn.

I am excited the City has called for one and hope this will be the first of many to come.

This week the Department of Environmental Quality announced they are going to begin the process to remediate the benzene on the south side of the former BF Goodrich plant. I called both the DEQ and the lawyers who represent Michelin’s interests asking for a Town Hall to alert and educate us all on the process that will be used here. People should have the right to know what is happening and how their safety is being protected during the process, more so than just in a press release.

The procedure they will be using has a name and an abbreviation: multi-phase extraction/air sparging MPE/AS remediation system. Through the years at our annual Tar Creek Conferences BF Goodrich has been on our agenda and this system was discussed as a method that was being considered and now it seems it has been chosen.

"MPE involves the pumping, extraction, and treatment of both ground water and subsurface soil vapor which contain mineral spirits and benzene. Air sparging, which is the injection of air, will provide oxygen to the subsurface to promote the removal of mineral spirits and benzene and enhance biodegradation of the ground water plume."

I will be calling the City to ask if they might put in a word to DEQ about their hosting a Town Hall on air sparging for us. A citizen who is informed can begin to deal with the uncertainties. What could be more unsettling than knowing there is benzene beneath the ground? Maybe the uncertainty of the safety of removing it.

As May ends with these colder nights, the heaters in our homes have been kicking on. For me those sounds are the sound of the Blackberry Winter. Coming just as the blackberry vines are loaded with blossoms, cold wet windy weather can knock some of the blossoms off so the vines aren't overloaded. Until the Town Hall on June 10, the ground will be drying out, new beds constructed, raised beds filled and planted and my thoughts go to body armor and where 18 year olds go to buy it and why on earth they would need it.

Growing up in Texas, Uvalde was never a town I visited or one our local high school played against in football. But it’s brown skinned kids are part of your visual memory now. Body Armor. Now that is a thing Congress could settle in on isn’t it? What law abiding citizen needs body armor? Why is it even for sale?

Last days of school have been the memories we all hold dear. Seeing the people in your classes for the last time. Here is hoping there will be a lot of Town Halls this summer about this issue in our country.

Respectfully Submitted

~ Rebecca Jim

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