There are times when just a few voices can do magic, but to stop the invasion in the county of the mega chicken houses coming to the horizon near you sucking up the water your children could have counted on for their generation, this is not a time to be silent. One set of 6 mega houses will be near what might have used as a huge tourism draw to see the Ribbon Road and can change the esthetics of the Oklahoma they might have wanted to see "where the wind comes sweeping down the plains" when the site and the possible smell hits our tourists, our countless Route 66 bicyclists and European travelers with their convertibles and the packs of brand new motorcycles who pass through here may hurry on by.
Protect what you have while you can. Speak out and loudly, together if you can and it will sound like Ron Stowell's Chorus Class: pure beauty. If you did that as a community and demanded clean air, clean water, you might get them. But I will promise you it is easy to lose when you are already loosing by accepting what you already have. It is amazing what can happen and has been shown to happen when the gears start working here.
How did the Coleman Theater get restored? How did the Quapaw Nation get the first contract to cleanup a superfund site, their own? How did the towns of Picher and Cardin get a federal buy-out? Power to the people. I rest my case. We can win them all. BF Goodrich could be first made safe and then cleaned up, the lead levels in our children can be zero like other communities around the country, the infiltration of mega-poultry houses can be stopped now. We don't have to let corporate goals be empowered by our local or state leaders and your silent acceptance.
The term fence-line neighbors defines a group of your country friends who are calling themselves Grand Lake Water Protectors who will be sitting on the front row at a meeting Monday evening Nov.19 at 6:30 p.m. in Afton at the Senior Citizens' Center in order to ask questions of Jim Reese, with the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry about the mega-chicken house expansion coming to Ottawa County and about to be their fence-line neighbor. They could use your help, attend that meeting and the ones that follow as this group grows their power to protect our future.
Nettie Detherage organized the first meetings, pulling in the Cherokee Nation, the county commissioners and GRDA and now she is bringing us together in Afton for this opportunity to speak with the man who signs the permits for these facilities. There will be more meetings and they will need your support.
A man who identified himself as Peter called last week just as Lois Lively and I were attaching the shower curtain rings onto the banners Academy students had created demanding cleanup of the BF Goodrich site. He asked if he could get copies of all the documents we had concerning BF Goodrich. It was one of those moments you might have had when you actually look at the phone in disbelief that that question could have been asked at a more remarkable moment.
Before answering I asked, "who are you with?" He was the attorney representing both BF Goodrich and Michelin Tire Companies, while we were on the floor attaching messages we very much hoped he would be able to see because he was coming to Miami this week. We practiced putting the banners up on the fence, got photos and saved the banners for reuse.
Wouldn't it have been great if he was coming to let us know those companies had decided to offer our community closure, compensation and a trail to reparations? to listen to the people who were made sick from exposures, those who live over the benzene plume, those who have buried relatives who had worked at the plant and given their lives for the livelihood the work provided their families. He could consider the lost property values and the utter mess that does nothing to inspire the youth of the community who go to school just yards from the abandoned, demolished mess it currently is.
The attorney did not want to consider the "pond" north of the plant where all the liquids from the plant were discharged or the "dump" because DEQ had closed it years ago with clay and BFG's benzene is simply "mineral spirits." He dismissed every concern any citizen would have listed but apologized for coming a day early because he had forgotten he had to be in court AGAINST OUR FRIENDS representing the companies the following day.
That visit was disappointing. My spirits dampened by corporate America, but as Friedrich Nietzsche said, "Music heals all forms of misery."
Respectfully Submitted ~ Rebecca Jim