"A popular government without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a Prologue to a Farce or a Tragedy; or, perhaps both. Knowledge will forever govern ignorance; and a people who mean to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power knowledge gives."


Tuesday, July 31, 2012

A Continuing Trend of Safety and Management Failures, Browns Ferry Nuclear Power Plant, Tanner Alabama

Browns Ferry Nuclear Power Plant

Schematic of the Browns Ferry Nuclear Power Plant, 3 GE Mark 1 style defective nuclear reactors.

Tanner, Alabama is a small rural farming community in North Alabama. Tanner is 8 air miles to the Browns Ferry Nuclear Power Plant. Within the 8 miles is the Tanner High School. https://www.tannerhigh.org/  Browns Ferry is 9.5 air miles from Athens, Alabama, the closest city. There are several schools in Athens, Alabama. Research has demonstrated there are no plans involving children in the evacuation and emergency planning process.

 The evacuation plan for Browns Ferry is woefully inadequate and may be found at this link: Browns Ferry  (March 5, 2018 -In checking this links operability a 404 error is displayed) Emergency Preparidness link may be found here - https://www.tva.gov/Energy/Our-Power-System/Nuclear/Emergency-Preparedness/Browns-Ferry-Emergency-Preparedness TVA's information page link about Browns Ferry: https://www.tva.gov/power/nuclear/brownsferry.htm

TVA has failed to incorporate 12 mile and 25 mile evacuation zones into their emergency planning process surrounding Browns Ferry. This demonstrates TVA and local officials are not coordinating planning actions nor taking into consideration the lessons of Fukushima, Japan into their Emergency Planning operations.
Current TVA evacuation map displaying a 10 mile radius (pictured above). The Huntsville International Airport is 24 air miles from Browns Ferry; downtown Huntsville, Alabama is 30 air miles from Browns Ferry. Over 900,000 people reside within 50 miles of the Browns Ferry Nuclear Power Plant.
Browns Ferry 25 mile map with simulated (wind direction reflected as NW to SE and SE to NW) radiation plume dispersion overlay.

GE Mark 1 Reactors in the U.S.
Reactor            Location            Size (MW)     Year
Browns Ferry 1     Decatur, AL           1065        1974
Browns Ferry 2     Decatur, AL           1104        1975
Browns Ferry 3     Decatur, AL           1105        1977
Brunswick 1        Southport, NC          938        1976
Brunswick 2        Southport, NC          920        1975
Cooper             Nebraska City, NE      770        1974
Dresden 2          Morris, IL             867        1970
Dresden 3          Morris, IL             867        1971
Duane Arnold       Cedar Rapids, IA       580        1975
Hatch 1            Baxley, GA             876        1975
Hatch 2            Baxley, GA             883        1979
Fermi 2            Monroe, MI            1122        1988
Hope Creek         Hancock's Brdg, NJ    1161        1986
Fitzpatrick        Oswego, NY             854        1976
Monticello         Monticello, MN         572        1971
Nine Mile Point 1  Oswego, NY             621        1969
Oyster Creek       Toms River, NJ         615        1969
Peach Bottom 2     Lancaster, PA         1112        1974
Peach Bottom 3     Lancaster, PA         1112        1974
Pilgrim            Plymouth, MA           685        1972
Quad Cities 1      Moline, IL             867        1972
Quad Cities 2      Moline, IL             867        1972
Vermont Yankee     Vernon, VT             620        1972

The Browns Ferry nuclear plant represents a continuing trend of management and safety culture failures documented by the press.
1) Failed valves, poor safety culture and a "Red Finding:" http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/news/story/2011/sep/28/regulators-to-discuss-browns-ferry-findings/60121/
2) Safety Culture failures and inadequate work planning: http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/2012/jan/27/inspectors-cite-inadequate-work-planning-browns-fe/ 
3) In earlier article, TVA attempts to make excuses for failures and distractions as a result of the Tornado disaster in April 2011 https://timesfreepress.com/news/2011/jul/14/tva-defends-browns-ferry-after-reports-equipment-o/
4) More excuses, this time from the NRC, ""TVA recognizes their performance has not been as good as it could be. ... It takes time." How much time does it take? For Fire Safety it is taking 37 years and the problems are still not corrected. https://www.timesfreepress.com/news/2012/may/16/browns-ferry-isnt-ready-to-inspect/ 
5) NRC extends fire safety deadline. A culture of excuses and support of the nuclear industry instead of the NRC supporting citizen safety and health. https://timesfreepress.com/news/2012/may/23/nuclear-nrc-extends-browns-ferrys-fire-fix/ 
6) Discrimination and intimidation at Browns Ferry and the TVA, hangmans noose x 5=disturbing trends. https://www.timesfreepress.com/news/2012/may/22/noose-found-hanging-browns-ferry-nuclear-plant/
 7) Another malfunctioning valve  https://www.timesfreepress.com/news/2012/jun/16/browns-ferry-has-valve-malfunction-tva-nuclear/
8) "Browns Ferry Not Ready for Inspection." Worse the NRC has failed to enforce rules on Fire Safety and diminishes public confidence. http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/2012/jun/22/tva-browns-ferry-not-ready-for-inspection/ 
9) Fire Safety problems-
--(a) Browns Ferry Control Room Fire, "Browns Ferry nuclear plant had a control room fire in January, regulators took months to notify public:"  https://blog.al.com/breaking/2012/07/browns_ferry_nuclear_plant_had.html  Op Ed article on Browns Ferry Fire Safety: http://blog.al.com/times-views/2012/07/editorial_lessons_at_browns_fe.html
--(b) Fire Response failure: https://blog.al.com/breaking/2009/11/tvas_browns_ferry_nuclear_plan.html
--(c) NRC cites fire  hazards: http://blog.al.com/live/2010/01/nrc_cites_fire_hazards_at_alab.html
--(d) How long does it take to correct the problem? "Regulators fault fire protection approach at Browns Ferry nuclear plant:" https://blog.al.com/breaking/2010/04/regulators_fault_fire_protecti.html  Meanwhile back at the Browns Ferry Nuclear Ranch of mass failures.
10) Violations violation, violations. FIRE- ""We are not here to contest the violation," Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant Vice President Keith Polson told the NRC about Browns Ferry operators and trainers failing a simulation exercise on safe shutdown in the event of a fire." New finding for safety related deficiencies, frustrations expressed by citizen watchdogs:" http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/news/story/2012/jul/26/browns-ferry-raises-concerns-frustrations-tva/83418/


If listing the 10 articles above to demonstrate various levels of management, safety and regulatory failures are not enough to demonstrate a failed safety culture and management failures at TVA's Browns Ferry - now comes the incompetent TVA leadership wanting to place dangerous Plutonium Oxide fuel, MOX, into a defective, aging nuclear reactor where there is a continuing trend of systemic failures. It is insanity to utilize MOX-Plutonium fuel at Browns Ferry.  http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/local/story/2012/jul/25/chattanoog-tva-considers-use-of-controversial-fuel/83263/

"TVA wants to make guinea pigs of us all, using weapons-derived plutonium oxide (MOX) fuel in its Sequoyah and Browns Ferry nuclear reactors. This fuel, made from old nuclear warheads, has never been used to power a reactor. Duke Energy tested it, found that it caused expansion of fuel rods, and backed out. Likewise, Energy Northwest, a public utility in Washington state, has pulled out of plutonium fuel use. That means it’s likely down to TVA’s Browns Ferry boiling water reactors of the GE Mark 1 design, same design as the Fukushima exploding reactor...When TVA and the NRC tell us that MOX fuel has been used for years in Europe and Japan, they fail to tell us that fuel is derived from nuclear reactors, not from weapons-grade plutonium, and that it too is more dangerous than uranium-based fuel." Dr. Kathy Ferris letter to the editor: https://www.greenvilleonline.com/article/D4/20120729/OPINION03/307290037/LETTER-TVA-s-nuclear-plan-could-bring-fallout-here?odyssey=mod_sectionstories  (This link is a 404 error)

Union of Concerned Scientists report on MOX Plutonium fuel: "...the use of MOX fuel can lead to increased safety problems when it is a larger fraction of the fuel (e.g. 30 percent or more, as is done in France). In such a case the MOX fuel can increase both the likelihood that certain types of accidents will occur and the public health consequences should one occur." https://www.ucsusa.org/nuclear-weapons/nuclear-terrorism/what-is-mox-fuel.html#.Wp495GrwbIU

Dangerous and defective Plutonium MOX fuel- "The abnormal fuel assembly growth (The fuel pellets grew-expanded in the Duke Power test reactor.) which terminated the MOX experiment has broader safety implications. The NRC has allowed dozens of AREVA uranium fuel assemblies with the same flaw to remain in other U.S. reactors, including Three Mile Island-1 in Pennsylvania, Davis-Besse in Ohio, Oconee in South Carolina, and Crystal River in Florida. AREVA told the NRC in April that it has not as yet determined the cause of the problem, although it may be related to an experimental alloy known as "M5" AREVA uses in the "guide tubes" where the control rods that shut down the reactor are inserted. Whatever the cause, the problem indicates that the NRC's licensing process for new fuels is inadequate..." http://www.ucsusa.org/news/press_release/nuclear-fuel-test-failure-0140.html {404 error-try this link} https://foe.org/news/2008-11-nuclear-fuel-test-failure-raises-concerns/
MOX Plutonium Fuel represent problems and safety concerns: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/mox-fuel-nuclear/

Utilizing MOX Plutonium fuel in aging, problematic nuclear reactors demonstrates questionable judgement and calls into question the NRC's motives. Every citizen should be asking the NRC this question: Which do you place first, the health and welfare of citizens or profits for the multinational nuclear power industry?

More information on Browns Ferry and other nuclear reactors in the Tennessee River Valley at "Our Nuclear Valley." https://nuclearvalley.blogspot.com/

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Dynetics Meets the Citizens of Larkinsville or, A Classic Example of How Not to Sell a Product



WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL
Video pulled - WAFF story: http://www.waff.com/story/18839702/some-residents-unsure-about-dynetics-expanding-into-area

These are my observations and a story about citizens, government, a company and a communications process. A story about people and what they think of government; a story about a company, Dynetics, a good company which employs several citizens of Jackson County in Madison County.

A story about a government agency involvement in business incentives, the Economic Development Authority, EDA - a county agency. The EDA's mission in our government is to assist in the acquisition of jobs for the citizens of Jackson County and in so doing not to waste the citizens money. The EDA's mission is to represent the citizens of Jackson County, not the corporation who may be attempting to locate in Jackson County.

Under the laws of our state the EDA may acquire funds to assist in infrastructure improvements for a prospective business or corporation coming to Jackson County. The EDA may issue substantial tax abatements for the business or corporations benefit on behalf of the citizens of Jackson County.  In return for what may amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars, even millions of dollars,over 10 to 15 years, there must be a substantial return to the community offered by the perspective business or corporation.
Jackson County EDA

In our capitalistic government form, an Economic Development Authority will either support the citizens, business, special interests or themselves. The proof is in the pudding, so to speak. Jackson County has not shown growth since the aluminum mill closed on Goose Pond Island. The effectiveness of the EDA and the Chamber of Commerce is questionable. There is a duplication of effort between the Chamber of Commerce and the EDA, results have been lack luster.

In studying the history of Economic Development Organizations relationships with a given population and the economy of the population one must understand basic concepts of economic systems and their interaction with people, government structure and cost benefit analysis-short and long term.

Within our local system of economic development there is always a trade, citizen jobs for "corporate welfare give aways." There is a point in the economic trade offs EDA managers must evaluate the citizens potential gain. Just as the corporation has a bottom line so must the citizen's representatives in the acquisition of business.  The economic development authority must never sell the citizens short for the benefit either of the corporation, known or unknown special interests, or personal benefit. This is where the EDA Board must ask hard questions of its CEO and hold the CEO 100% accountable. If an EDA Board does not hold its executive accountable at all times for its staffs actions then the EDA is not representing the citizens interest.
"It is a great privilege and honor to support the war fighter," says the Chamber of Commerce and the EDA CEO. This old soldier says "hogwash," go sell that song and dance routine somewhere else, possibly at a convention for Defense Contractors. It is the EDA's role and the Chamber of Commerce's role (The Chamber of Commerce receives tax payer dollars.) to represent the citizens of Jackson County in the acquisition of jobs. Spending what amounts to a quarter of a million dollars on 4 jobs within the first 2 years, then the POSSIBILITY of a total of 6 more jobs-MAYBE, does not warrant the investment of a quarter of a million dollars for a "munitions testing range."  Job reality in this project: security(3), janitorial (2), maintenance(3) and administrative(1) will equate to 9 maybe 10 jobs max. Engineering expertise, the high paying jobs, are already employed by the corporation involved-Dynetics.
Dynetics stressed safety in their testing programs. They demonstrated, if the property is purchased, testing will be accomplished in the upper part of the Stone-Moody property, in the back of Pinhook hollow.

The interaction of the Jackson County EDA with citizens of Larkinsville is a case study of what not to do when asked hard questions about their role. When the citizens group approached the EDA the citizens were told by the EDA CEO, the EDA fully supports this project. There was no explanation as to a cost benefit analysis nor any conciliatory remarks given concerning the citizens points of view. There was an aire shown, "I'm the government authority, and I don't care what you think."  Very bad form and unprofessional on the part of the EDA. Although the EDA did allow the citizens to voice their concerns at July's monthly meeting.
Dynetics managers conducting the briefing failed to recognize Larkinsville citizens in the group meeting. Concerned citizens were told they could meet with us after the meeting.

I observed Dynetics managers and the citizens interaction during the public meeting Tuesday evening, July 24th. The session was an expose of what not to do if you are a corporation attempting to convince a community of why they should be accepting of an organization who will be testing munitions.
Dynetics managers discuss operations with Larkinsville residents after the group session. At times it was obvious that both Larkinsville residents and Dynetics managers became frustrated with each other.

Dynetics had Public Relations and Communications persons available, they did not utilize them in their formal presentations. Concerned citizens of Larkinsville were not recognized as people who had legitimate concerns. The interactions of the Vice President and Project Manager was less than professional and designed to diminish citizen group participation. Dynetics management involved, placed themselves into an unnecessary argumentative session which was improperly conducted. Dynetics management present demonstrated a lack of skill in the communications process of group interaction and facilitation.

I stayed until Dynetics personnel were packing up and asked many questions about what Dynetics intended to do with the property. It is obvious Dynetics intends on utilizing the property as a test bed for munitions and it is more than likely the property will be utilized for expanded munitions testing to include high explosive military ordinance.

If the property is purchased it will be impossible to determine if there will be any undesirable fuels, chemicals or waste products utilized or disposed on the site. Dynetics stating the Alabama Department of Environmental Management, ADEM, will inspect them does not hold weight. What will they inspect them for, ADEM does not have the money to provide basic water monitoring and Waste Discharge permitting within our state much less providing high level environmental monitoring of a test range. Dynetics did have an environmental contractor present but the contractor was not able to provide meaningful information.

The most positive aspect of the meeting for me was meeting the employees. The hard working everyday bread and butter employee of the company. The Jane and Joe employees of Dynetics have the capability to sell the public on the company in far greater positive terms than any of the Dynetics Executives present. I'm sure the managers and executives present are experts in their respective fields; experienced and learned communicators in dealing with a group of concerned citizens they are not. The Dynetics managers present did not fully utilize their expert staff present.

Story Links
WAAY TV link http://www.waaytv.com/news/local/story/Tempers-flare-at-Dynetics-meeting/KefDvEF7EE-24zB2p1Y--A.cspx

WAFF-TV links about Dynetics: http://www.waff.com/search?RecordNum=1&vendor=ez&qu=dynetics

Scottsboro's Dauily Sentinel links: http://thedailysentinel.com/news/article_0e7b7e94-d776-11e1-8766-0019bb2963f4.html


When all is said and done concerning this issue a few facts stand out: 1) Dynetics has not purchased the property. The EDA appears, by their demonstrated actions, to be representing Dynetics. 2) Some Larkinsville residents are not supportive of the "test bed project," while other residents support the project. 3) Dynetics has great employees who are offered one of the best benefit packages available to employees in the United States. Dynetics takes care of their employees, a very positive aspect of the company, it is an employee owned corporation. Dynetics provides Information Technology support to both business and government in Jackson County. 3) Are the citizens investment into Dynetics worth the return in this "test bed project?" It is my opinion the EDA has not acted responsibly in this matter. 4) Dynetics did not conduct the session properly. They did not allow, nor moderate citizen participation in the group session. The citizens who do not support the project interupted the presentation, a professional moderator could have resolved the issue if the session had been designed to receive concerns and feedback from all citizens. Dynetics managers during the group session made an informative presentation which was interupted by the group of concerned citizens present. This lack of attention to detail on the part of the engineer managers concerning the informational session ignored standards of communication and group interactions, that is bothersome. 5) The Dynetics managers conducting the informational session did not utilize their communications and public relations staff in an appropriate manner.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Jackson County Commission Meeting - Jackson County Park Manager Issue

Jackson County Courthouse south side. (photo by G. Morgan) There are plans to open the south entrance on or about August 1, 2012.
Jackson County Park back in the news.

Agenda of the Jackson County Commission, click on image for an expanded view. Link to the Jackson County Commission's Thursday work session where the commission issues were discussed. http://arklite.blogspot.com/2012/07/jackson-county-commission-work-session_20.html

Agenda Item K, Park Manager or Department Head?
The open meeting discussion concerning item K was stopped when the issue concerning hiring the current Park Manager, Carl Barnes, entered into a dispute as to how to hire Barnes - Park Manager vs Department Head. After the meeting I asked of the Commission Chair Pro Tem, Jack Allen, if item K warranted an Executive Session. I was told it did warrant an executive session as the good name and character of an individual was going to be discussed. The County Attorney certified the Executive Session was necessary, stating the good name and character exception.

At last Thursday's Work Session Commissioner Jack Smith suggested the Park Manager be hired as a Department Head and paid a salary of $40,000. There was no mention in the work session as to Barnes housing benefit or the fact Barnes was receiving a questionable "overtime payment" not in his contract. (Last Thursday's work session notes http://arklite.blogspot.com/2012/07/jackson-county-commission-work-session_20.html )
Jackson County Park Manager Carl Barnes. (photo by G.Morgan)

Executive Session Deceit?
Information has been been received that the reason for the Executive Session was to discuss the contract violation involving an "unauthorized overtime payment" to the Park Manager authorized solely by the County Commission Chairperson. According to reliable sources at the County Commission, the contracted-salaried park manager has been paid the "unauthorized overtime payment" for an extended period of time. Reports indicate the contract authorizes a salary for the Park Manager of $28,500. As a result of the inappropriate overtime payment the manager is currently receiving approximately $38,000 per annum, near $10,000 more than the contract allows. The Park Manager also receives a house to live in at the park as it is a requirement the manager reside at the park. A $500 per month housing cost estimate is worth an estimated $6000 per annum in compensation. There is no record of an authorized increase in the Park Manager's contract involving overtime payments since the Park Manager position is a salaried position.

A salaried employee hired under the terms of the Park Manager's contract is not authorized to received overtime payments.

If citizens will remember an overpayment situation was alleged to exist by the Commission Chair and County Administrator involving the Probate Judge. The excess salary payment was collected from the Probate Judge after an extensive investigation. Now a similar situation exists created by the current commission chair involving the Jackson County Park Manager.

Was the Executive Session's "good name and character" justification an excuse utilized to justify secrecy relating to public fund misuse in this case?

Citizens at the Jackson County Park have questioned whether the manager actually lives at the park as required in the park managers contract.

The Jackson County Chairperson, Sadie Bias, was not present during yesterdays meeting. The Park Manager left when the County Commission went into an Executive Session and did not return.

Scottsboro City Council Meeting

Last night was a regular meeting of the city council. (photo by G. Morgan)

Agenda, click on image for an expanded view.

Agenda summary report: 1) Mike Ashburn was appointed as Custodian of voting machines. 2) Election Manager for the Absentee Ballot's pay was approved for $50 per day. The City Clerk has this as an additional duty. 3) Announced vacancies on the Industrial Development Board for a 6 year appointment. If interested contact the City Clerk by 4:30PM on Aug. 15, 2012. 4) Approval was acquired for the truss bid for the Library Roof reconstruction. The Mayor stated the roof construction should begin in 2-3 weeks. 5) Rate of pay for election officials was approved. 6) Election Officials appointments were approved.7) Vacancy on Medical Clinic Board, interested persons must have request submitted by Aug. 15, 2012 4:30PM. 8)Design plan for the Derrick Office Building facade was approved. Costs and future usage was not discussed. 9) The Scottsboro Solid Waste Authority, which is the current city council, Mayor, city clerk and city attorney, will decide on the purchase of the 12.71 additional acres for the landfill. 10) Mrs. Matthews was appointed to fill the term of her late husband on the Water , Sewer and Gas Board. 11) Airport improvement project was approved to include the awarding of the paving bid at the airport which was awarded to Jackson Paving for $74,875.00

More information on specific approvals of the council may be gained on this sites report of the city council work session on July 16, 2012, link: http://arklite.blogspot.com/2012/07/scottsboro-city-council-work-session.html

The report section of the City Council meeting contained the report by the City Attorney, Steve Kennamer, concerning the arrest of Jill Dover, Court Magistrate Assistant, by the Alabama Bureau of Investigation yesterday at 4PM. Dover resigned prior to the arrest, she has been charged with Theft in the 1st Degree. The arrest was related to the $12,000 in reported missing funds in the City's Municipal Court System.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Arrest in Scottsboro Municipal Court Missing Funds Case

At tonight's Scottsboro City Council Meeting Steve Kennamer, City Attorney, announced that the Alabama Bureau of Investigation had arrested Jill S. Dover, a 4 year employee of the City of Scottsboro. Ms. Dover's position was that of an Assistant to the Municipal Court Magistrate. Dover resides in Henager, Alabama and is reported to be married with 2 children. She has been arrested on the charge of Theft in the 1st Degree. WAFF Story: ABI charges court official for missing money- http://www.waff.com/story/19094533/abi-arrests
Booking photo of Jill S. Dover

In June, Scottsboro Mayor Melton Potter reported that $12,000 had been missing from the Scottsboro Municipal Court system. He stated Scottsboro's accounting procedures discovered the missing funds in early May. The Mayor announced in June the case had been turned over to the Alabama Bureau of Investigation. The Daily Sentinel's breaking news statement relating to the arrest:  http://thedailysentinel.com/article_c6307390-d524-11e1-bcde-001a4bcf887a.html

Friday, July 20, 2012

Jackson County Commission Work Session

Jackson County Courthouse, south side (photo by G. Morgan) Currently the south entrance is closed. This may change soon, Commissioner Jack Allen, who is on the Courthouse Security Committee, requested the reopening of the entrance be placed on Mondays regular meeting agenda for a vote. The Daily Sentinel's report on this issue by Laura Pitts: http://thedailysentinel.com/news/article_5e3d2b66-d1ff-11e1-a80d-0019bb2963f4.html

Thursday's agenda, click on image for an expanded view.

Agenda outline: 1) Mike Ashburn, Acting EMA Director, requested the commission make an appointment as the County Homeland Security Point of Contact. Ashburn is expected to receive the appointment. 2) Nick Barrantini of Washington National Insurance Co. made a presentation concerning employee insurance benefits.
County Park Manager Carl Barnes (photo by G. Morgan). County Commissioner Jack Smith discussed making Barnes a Department Head with an estimated salary of $40,000. The park manager lives on site in the county's "park manager home." It is estimated this benefit is worth $6000.

3) Carl Barnes, County Park Manager, made presentation on needed improvements for the County Park. Barnes requested the hire of a temporary employees since a permanent employee is out with an injury. A discussion ensued about building and grounds improvements. It was stated improvements will cost approximately $444,000, current income was stated to be approximately $500K. Storm debris cleanup cost reimbursements from FEMA still has not been settled. The County Park no longer has a managing park board, the commission abolished the park board last year. The park board was not an incorporated authority under Alabama Law.
County Engineer Phillip Widner. (photo by G. Morgan)

4)County Engineer Phillip Widner brought forward the following issues for discussion: a) Emergency Generator for Public Works to cost between $225K-$275. b)Southern Oaks Sub-division roads discussion. c) State of Alabama annual debris removal bid discussion. d)Truck needed for Assistant Engineer. e) Bid opening discussion concerning Garbage Truck bids. Bids are expected to be opened late Monday morning and should be voted on at the afternoon session. f) Mailing Services bid discussed, possibly will involve all county departments. It was stated that mailing service will be opened for bids due to exceeding $50,000 dollars and could not be counted as a professional services contract.

Other discussions: 1) Jim Moore's name was brought forward as a candidate for the Jackson County Water Board. 2) Personnel Board policy guidelines issue brought forward by Commissioner Clemmons with input by the County Attorney. 3) Commissioner Clemmons requested the commission always inform the local press when a special or emergency meeting is called. The County Attorney reminded the commission that notifications are required by law. The local press has not been notified when emergency meetings are being called. Daily Sentinel articles on the issue: a) Commission's Personnel Director resigns- http://thedailysentinel.com/news/article_5e3d2b66-d1ff-11e1-a80d-0019bb2963f4.html  b) Daily Sentinel Opinion article on the Commission's failure to properly notify the press- http://thedailysentinel.com/opinion/editorials/article_ec110150-d12e-11e1-b7cd-001a4bcf887a.html  c) I submitted a request to the Commission Chairperson to notify me electronically when a Special or Emergency meeting is called by the county commission. A presentation was made to the commission concerning the importance of proper notifications.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Jackson County Economic Development Authority (EDA) Meeting

UPDATE July 20, 2012: The Jackson County EDA appears to have held a meeting prior to the regularly scheduled monthly meeting at noon on Tuesday, July 17, 2012. A quorum of the EDA were present for the meeting. The "pre-meeting" involved Spectra Energy officials. Spectra Energy has stated, via local press releases, they are considering plans to build a major gas line in the north part of the county. TVA has indicated interest in utilizing natural gas for a combined cycle gas plant to replace shut down coal fired power generators at the Widow's Creek Power Plant between Bridgeport and Stevenson, Alabama.

Deliberations under Alabama's Open Meetings law includes discussions or information which may influence members of the public body in their official actions or information or discussions which may come before the meeting at a later time. Alabama's Open Meetings Act may be found in the Code of Alabama Section 36-25A. An Open Meetings Manual for Alabama Public Officials and citizens may be found on the web at http://www.acca-online.org/oml/ag_open_meeting.pdf .

It was confirmed by EDA CEO Dus Rogers that Spectra Energy was present to met with the EDA to discuss issues prior to the regular scheduled meeting. The EDA approved an Executive session at 12:44 PM and was certified by the EDA's Attorney John Porter. Porter was not present at Tuesdays "pre-meeting." .

When I arrived at the regular scheduled meeting at approximately 11:50AM there were 3-4 Spectra Energy Officials departing the EDA. CEO Dus Rogers was contacted to confirm the officials departing were from Spectra Energy.
Jackson County EDA, South Broad Street, Scottsboro, Alabama. (photo from EDA's FaceBook page)

The EDA held its monthly meeting meeting today. Below is the agenda of the meeting. Click on Image for an expanded view. The EDA CEO hired local Attorney John Porter to serve as the EDA attorney.
Several important issues were brought forward. 1) Report on the Forever Wild Board meeting. It was stated 11,000ac were voted to be taken into the Forever Wild Program in Jackson County if the State of Alabama provides funding for the program. "al.com" article about the program: http://blog.al.com/spotnews/2012/06/forever_wild_gives_go-ahead_to.html 2)ADEM could lose authority to issue water permits due to funding cuts : "al.com"  article  http://blog.al.com/live/2012/06/adem_could_lose_authority_to_i.html  3) Treasurer was elected for the EDA, Bruce Purdy is the new Treasurer.
4) A group of 5 concerned citizens from Larkinsville expressed concern over the proposed Dynetics Test facility in Larkinsville, Al. on the 1500ac tract known as the Moody-Stone Property. Land owners adjacent to the proposed test facility stated in today's EDA meeting they do not want the facility to locate adjacent to their property. (photo by G. Morgan)

Expressed concerns: 1)The property owners concerns included chemicals used in rocket fuels to include testing of the rockets and fuel. 2) Karst Terrain and hydrology, fears were expressed concerning ground water and well water contamination.3) Noise pollution as a result of the test bed and decrease of owners property values. The bottom line, the surrounding land owners and Larkinsville citizens present do not want the test facility located near their homes.

EDA CEO Dus Rogers stated he was supportive of the project. Mr. Rogers also stated Dynetics will be holding a meeting with property owners in the near future.

The citizen group present presented a signed petition to the EDA Board from Larkinsville residents stating they do not want the facility located in Larkinsville, Al. There were a total of 124 signatures of citizens opposed to the Dynetics Test Facility.

A discussion ensued between one board member, Bruce Purdy, and EDA CEO-Dus Rogers about the number of employees which would be hired locally by Dynetics. There was differing information presented. Purdy stated that only one employee would be hired that he was aware-a receptionist. Rogers stated it was his understanding up to 15 employees may be hired locally. It was suggested this should not be discussed in the open meeting. The employment issue was discussed at last month's EDA meeting where it was stated that only 2-3 local citizens would be hired.

Previous articles on this blog concerning the issue involving the EDA and Dynetics: http://arklite.blogspot.com/search/label/Dynetics

The EDA adjourned into an Executive Session at 12:44PM and was certified by Mr. Porter to discuss confidential information relating to incoming or potential incoming industry in Jackson County. The EDA monthly meeting began at 12:01PM.
Scottsboro Attorney John Porter serves as the Jackson County Commission, EDA and Jackson County School Board Attorney. (photo by G. Morgan)

Monday, July 16, 2012

Scottsboro City Council Work Session

Tonight was a Scottsboro City Council work session. (photo by G. Morgan)

Agenda outline: 1) Discussion of appointing Mike Ashburn as the Custodian of Voting Machines for the city election. 2) Rate of pay for election officials discussed: $125.00 each for the 3 Inspectors and $100.00 each for the 25 workers. 3) Discussion concerning fee for the election manager as authorized by state law. 4) Appointment of Election Officials discussed.
5) Proposed facade for the Derrick Office building. The Historical Commission and the Architectural Review Board will provide input prior to final approval. Carr Engineering is working with the city on this design. Costs for the facade and future usages are unknown at this time. Council Person Carol McCrary suggested that an inquiry be initiated to determine if students from the Ernest Pruitt Technology Center could provide the brick laying for this job.
6) Discussion concerning 13 acres of land to be purchased for the city landfill at Martintown, total of 18+ acres of which 5 acres have been previously purchased.

Friday, July 13, 2012

City/County Government Report & Municipal Elections Qualifying Report

I'm late with my Scootsboro City Council and Jackson County Commission report. Please read the Daily Sentinel and Clarion's coverage of the governmental entity reports linked under the appropriate picture. Also included are the Municipal Election qualifying reports from The Clarion and The Daily Sentinel.

Jackson County Commission

Scottsboro City Council
The Bid for the Library HVAC units were approved, $22,850 awarded to Central Air Conditioning Service of Scottsboro. The Library roof bid was approved for $35,000, awarded to Jerry Atkins Construction. There will be a separate bid for the library roof truss system.

Broad Street Paving Costs to City of Scottsboro

Municipal Elections Report

Friday, July 6, 2012

Jackson County Commission Work Session, Larkinsville Citizens Express Concerns

Yesterday afternoon the Jackson County Commission held a work session. The hot topic: Dynetics, Test Bed proposed purchase. Several Larkinsville citizens and Scottsboro City Council Member Gary Speers expressed concern at yesterdays County Commission Work Session about the proposed Dynetic's test bed property purchase, story after the brief commission outline.

Items discussed: 1) County Park will need some cleaning up after the wind storm. The City of Scottsboro has agreed to help in the cleanup efforts, overtime will have to be paid by the county for Scottsboro's equipment operators. The commission will decide on this issue in Mondays regular meeting. 2) Discussion concerning speed limit change on County Rd. 331, speed limit to be 35, another item for Monday's agenda. 3) Garbage trucks are breaking down. Solid Waste personnel made a presentation that engine repairs will cost $15-27K on truck. 4) Contract discussion for housing municipal inmates when applicable. New contract will be voted on at Monday's meeting. 5) Joint Bid Discussion concerning regional debris cleanup due to storms. 6) Proclamation for the 100th Anniversary of Flatrock, Alabama will be voted on and presented at Mondays session. 7) Discussion concerning 3 Council of Aging Buses to be declared surplus and sold on govdeals.com. 8) Mapping and Appraisal Office conference discussion, AAAO Summer Conference. 9) Accounting Clerk vacancy discussion.
Larkinsville Citizens, the Jackson County Commission and the EMA Acting Director discuss the Flood Zone and how the proposed Dynetics test bed might impact the underground aquifer in the area. The area has many sink holes and a former Industrial Park project was cancelled due to the unstable geological structure of the Larkinsville area known as Karst Terrain. Karst topography explained:
 Larkinsville Citizens express concern about proposed test bed at the Stones Cove advertised property.
Within the last couple of months Dynetics Corporation of Huntsville, Al. has expressed considerable interest in the "Stones Cove Property" in Larkinsville, Alabama  http://www.outdoorinvestment.com/land-for-sale/Stone-Cove.html . Stories indicate the property will be utilized as a test bed. Previous story on this blog about the issue: http://arklite.blogspot.com/2012/06/jackson-county-eda-meeting-good-bad-and.html 

The EDA does not have an attorney on its staff to advise the EDA Board on this issue and has not had an attorney for several years according to its CEO Dus Rogers. .

 The EDA and Chamber of Commerce are touting the proposed deal as an "Absolute Honor," making claims of patriotism to have such a test facility. However, it is reported the proposed "patriotic deal"  would bring very few jobs to Jackson County, "possibly 2-3." The "absolute honor" propaganda appears to be a tactic to convince the current land owners to sell.under their advertised asking price of $3.9 million for the 1500ac property called "Stone's Cove." Huntsville Times article: http://blog.al.com/huntsville-times-business/2012/06/dynetics_plans_for_test_facili.html

Surrounding land owners say hold it, not so fast. Stating concerns about Karst Terrain, and possible damage to the underground aquifer. Alabama Water program notice about Karst Terrain and the dangers of pollution. http://www.aces.edu/waterquality/faq/faq_results.php3?rowid=3711

All hands point to the Jackson County Flood Plain Map. County Commissioners inquired of the County Attorney John Porter, "can we make determinations concerning usage of proposed land located in a flood plain?" "Yes," was Mr. Porters reply. The commissioners agreed to place an item on Mondays agenda which will formally request a usage statement of the property which is located in a "Flood Plain." Daily Sentinel article: http://thedailysentinel.com/news/article_3403553e-c7c6-11e1-82b6-001a4bcf887a.html
Scottsboro City Council Member Gary Speers spoke of concerns about a historical cemetery on the property. It has been reported there are possible slave burials and early 19th century burials on the Stones Cove property. Topo map of Pinhook Cemetery  http://www.topozone.com/map.asp?lon=-86.12&lat=34.7039

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Scottsboro Elections, Early Qualifying

Early qualifiers for the upcoming City Election. Left to right, Bob Starkey for Mayor, incumbent for Mayor-Mayor Melton Potter, City Clerk Cathy O Shields looks on, Candidate for City Council Brent Miller, Council member Thermon Bell registered at 8AM. Daily Sentinel Article: http://thedailysentinel.com/news/article_d9b9d94a-c49b-11e1-b160-001a4bcf887a.html
Council Member Thermon Bell.
School Board Member Robert Ferrell was at City Hall for early qualifying. 
Mr. Brent Miller was present, Mr. Miller will face Mr. Bell. No other candidates have expressed an interest for this position at this time.
Ms. Carol McCrary candidate for Mayor
Mr. Bob Starkey candidate for Mayor.
Mayor Melton Potter, incumbent.

Scottsboro City Council Meeting

(photo by G. Morgan)
Last evening was a work session of the Scottsboro City Council. Agenda items: 1) Discussion of Bid Opening for the Rec Com, new Soccer Fields and Softball Fields. The Bid Committee recommended that Goff Ventures of Pelham, Al. be awarded the bid, meeting all specifications for the mowing equipment listed. There were lower bidders who submitted a bid but they did not meet the bid specifications.
City Finance Director Rick Wheeler answers questions concerning the bid process regarding the Rec Com equipment bid for the new Bynum Sports Complex. (photo G. Morgan)

2) Resignation of Bressel Matthews from the Water, Sewer and Gas Board received effective on July 1, 2012. Interested parties should apply to the City Clerk by July 18, 2012. 3) Discussion concerning appointing the City Clerk as City Election Manager. 4) Discussion concerning purchase of election supplies from Election Systems Software of Birmingham, Al. 5) Eddie Blizzard discusses C&D cell landfill issues.

Reports: Qualifying begins at 8:30AM Tuesday morning.