By: Senator Thom Goolsby
May 6, 2009
Even though petitions have been signed by hundreds of Surry County residents asking that the county further the research on the Fibrowatt plant before sealing the deal, the commissioners have seemingly ignored petitioners wishes. Are less than 40 jobs at the plant and a few dozen trucking jobs which may not be filled by area truckers worth the possible pollution of a 90-mile radius of residents?
Information of violations at Fibrowatts location in Minnesota have been presented to the commissioners as well as the irreversible effects of Dioxin, a toxin released when chicken litter, lumber and other materials used by the Fibrowatt company are incinerated. Two different doctors in the area have tried to speak to the commissioners warning of the irreparable damage that will occur to the respiratory systems of the residents in the area where the exhaust is expelled. The commissioners response to these concerns presented by residents who have spent countless hours researching the ill effects of such a plant should be of concern to all residents of Surry County. If the tax benefit of allowing a plant to move into operation in the county outweighs the health and well being of the residents of the county, the county is not benefiting. Surry County commissioners also need to recognize the negative impact the plant would have on the largest growing industry in the state, the wine industry. Surry County, the Yadkin Valley is benefiting from the many vineyards and wineries in the area, and has the great potential to be the largest viticulture area in the state for years to come. When the possibility of toxins released into the atmosphere hangs over the area, entrepreneurs in the wine industry may think twice about choosing the area. And what damage will be done to the existing industry? North Carolinas wine industry reportedly brought an estimated $813 million dollars into North Carolina last year, many of those dollars being fed into the Surry/Yadkin area. What will Fibrowatt bring in revenue and will the impact of the questionable health issues decrease the revenue from the wine industry here? Will the exhaust from the plant adversely affect the grapes?
With everyones focus on economic development in the county, the possibility of grabbing everything that comes along becomes a probability. It may be time for the Surry County commissioners to step back and think about the welfare of its citizens first. They may also want to consider that Mount Airy is within that so-called 90-mile radius of affected air quality area. Are they willing to risk the health of themselves and their loved ones?
When a resident goes to the poll and chooses a candidate they do so with the belief that the candidate has their best interest in mind. When that candidate becomes the politician do the values and ideals of the residents they represent not warrant complete investigations?
Residents put their faith in the politicians elected to office. The politicians are expected to go the extra mile, and answer to the highest of standards. It would serve the politicians of our area well to remember that their careers are at the mercy of the residents who hold that faith in the decisions that they (commissioners) make and decide if those decisions are truly in the BEST interest of the public for which they serve.