On May 24, 2010, a County Commission (SCC) meeting was held in Columbiana that further illustrates the counties glaring lack of due diligence and continued efforts to rush this process.
1. The meeting was presided over by SCC Chair Lindsey Allison, a lawyer who has allegedly been hired by WRQ as an additional attorney to represent their interests.
(A local citizen has provided us with a copy of a letter written to SC Manager Ray Hamilton, Planner II, K. Goddard and SC Planning Dept. Head David Hunke, asking for confirmation of this. We will report on their response as soon as it provided to us.)
**UPDATE 12:56pm May 25, 2010; we have just received confirmation that Ms. Allison has been hired by WRQ. Ethics Violations will be forthcoming. This is a clear case of conflicting interests.
2. Road Commissioner present (name not provided) stated that the increase of trucks on two local county roads from 25 daily (in the quarry proposal) to 75 daily (no explanation given for the increase) is in his opinion; "Not that many trucks."
(A citizen pointed out that his number was inaccurate as it only included the trucks, not the number of trips as most traffic studies are based on. Delivery and pickup moves the number to 150. The Road Commissioner dismissed this observation as still; "Not that many trucks.")
3. The SCC meeting was called to discuss the transformation on (2) two lane county roads into state truck routes benefiting the quarry.
4. A row of men seated in the rear of the room made a comment in a snide manner about the increase of people in attendance which was uncalled for.
(One of the older female minority residents of Vincent was wearing a "No Quarry" shirt and when she rose from her seat this comment was made; "So that's what this is all about," which was followed by snarky laughter.)
5. Discussion was limited by the SCC based on; 'We can't talk too much about this right now."
We would like to know why the SCC is even discussing this at all right now based on the following:
A) The quarry has not been voted on by the City Council of Vincent
B) The postponed public hearing that must happen before the vote has not been rescheduled. Ample time has passed for this to occur.
C) After the CC votes, the quarry still has to be permitted by ADEM and a public hearing must also occur before that happens.
It seems reasonable to us that the SCC knows something the citizens do not and that is why they are discussing the road conversions prematurely. The quarry is being rushed through and due diligence has not been exercised in a responsible manner.
The issue was raised regarding liability should an accident or fatality occur from one of these trucks. It was not answered satisfactorily.The SCC also left off their "Home Rule" amendment language which is part of the Alabama Constitution and states: "The Legislature reserves the right to waive or limit the county's liability."
That would be important for any plaintiff to know in the event of any legal proceedings.
The SCC, WRQ and the Town of Vincent has still not adequately addressed the important concerns of citizens in the River Loop area or the residents on CR 62 and CR 85, as to what would be the solution if a truck causes an accident, blocks the road and delays medical personnel to quickly access a victim.
It is established fact in the medical community that certain medical conditions (i.e. cardiac, stroke, severe respiratory distress and massive trauma) are dependent on the first hour of care for the optimal outcome to be achieved. Survival rates are also tied directly to the "first hour."
If Highway 62 is blocked for any reason, medical personnel will be required to take an alternate route to access victims in the River Loop area, which will inevitably reduce the "first hour."
No one it seems is concerned enough about these issues to produce any clear answers or mitigation plans.
The rush to collect the tax dollars seems mightier than human life and that is completely against societal standards, but a familiar story in the land of cotton and corruption.
**Editors note: Mr Joel Bearden SCC, Mr. Robert Owens SC DA, should also recuse themselves due to being beneficiaries of the Bearden Quarry Trust, a partnership with Vulcan Materials, Co. in Helena and set up by Joel Bearden in 1968.