Disappointed with director's visit

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Dear Editor:

Director of the Department of Natural Resources Doyle Childers and his Ombudsman, Dave Woolery, were in Barry County yesterday, June 27, to "meet with county officials and local citizens on environmental issues of local concern."

I was going to start this letter by saying that it was a big waste of time but then I thought about it and realized it was a learning lesson. This was the first time that I have been that close to a politician and yes, now I understand why people don't believe or trust anything they say or do. And yes, they talk out of both sides of their mouth and yes; they speak a lot of words but don't say anything.

To begin with his ombudsman is misnamed. I quote from a dictionary "a public official appointed to investigate citizens' complaints against local or national government agencies that may be infringing on the rights of individuals." Mr. Woolery would be what I would call a DNR regional assistant.

In the case of putting 65,600 chickens in a confined area on top of a rocky hill with creeks on either side that run straight to Roaring River it will not be a matter of IF but WHEN the river, our wells, Table Rock Lake and Roaring River State Park get contaminated.

It's been a proven fact that where chicken houses are, the waters near by have been ruined. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, hog, chicken and cattle waste has polluted 35,000 miles of rivers in 22 states and contaminated groundwater in 17 states.

These are not the family farms where a farmer has several different types of animals in a free-range atmosphere; they are the big CAFO's, industrial factories. I don't think GOD intended us to confine these animals where they cannot even move, remove the end of their beak so they can't peck, fill them full of antibiotics and growth hormones and call it humane. Then they end up in our stores for us to buy, and that IS what we are buying.

The area around Roaring River State Park and Table Rock Lake is not like the areas north and west of Cassville. This area of the Ozarks is full of caves and underground streams and openings in the limestone. It is very easy for rain and water to find its way underground and into our wells, creeks and rivers.

Mr. Childers said he had a problem telling someone what they can do with their land. But they could do it if they really wanted too, they do it all the time, he just doesn't want to admit they are very wrong in this case when it comes to how it affects the neighbors and our tourists and fishermen. I would think that all these other people have rights too. But no, we will have to wait until the damage is done then try to fix it. How smart is that?

Here's another example of how our government works. When the Ozbuns got their construction permit Feb. 28 over 60 people wrote appealing the issuance of this permit. They had until March 30 (30 days) to submit this appeal to Administrative Hearing Commission. A moratorium should have been put on the construction at this time.

A letter dated May 18, 2007, was sent to about 40 people along with about 20 people that missed the deadline saying these other 20 people had the chance to be entered into the appeal if they sent another letter in asking to be put on that list. They had until June 15, 2007, to reply. Construction has started and is continuing.

A letter dated June 21, 2007, was sent to the complainants informing them that a date has been set for a hearing on this subject. Monday, Jan. 7, 2008, through Friday, Jan. 11, 2008. Yes, January 2008. Construction is still continuing and will be done by September or October. Does anyone really think that the permit will be rescinded? This was nothing but just a way to let us think we mattered and put us off until it was over.

We haven't given up; we still have a couple of things we are working on. One plan is putting a five-mile buffer around state parks and historical sites. If our government doesn't think enough of our heritage to preserve it, maybe the people will.


Beverly Sweeney

Eagle Rock, Missouri