I had written about the proposed projects for the five million in fines FERC fined Ameren. I may be interested in what’s happening in the aftermath of the Taum Sauk dam break, but one thing I’m not is a ‘local’, with a local’s intimate knowledge of the politics and the organizations. Black River News points today to a letter that a local, James Hawley, sent as response to the recommended proposals, and it is a direct look at how political many of the recommendations are.
(The FERC correspondence system is based on scanned correspondence and uses Java to display such, so the system isn’t particularly friendly. Access the letter through FERC, clicking on the link labeled Project Correspondence in the right side of the page–Hawley’s letter is the first in the list. If you have pop-up blockers, you’ll have to allow the site to open new windows to use the FERC document viewer.)
Among some of the criticisms of approved projects:
3) Case end loader, boom axe mower and two dump trucks–First, has any qualified company or person outside of the area looked at the existing trucks and equipment Reynolds County owns? Second, a boom axe mower is not environmentally friendly. It rips, mutilates and kills trees and vegetation. The Reynolds County Commissioners requested $259,500.00 for these trucks and equipment. I as others can’t get our roads maintained. Why would we want this equipment when only the selected get their county roads maintained? This again is for political gain and definitely should not be approved.
14) Building construction, dog purchase, and operational expenses for establishing a training facility for search-and-rescue dogs–This is the wording from AmerenUE’s web site, which exposes the deceptive motives from this panel. This wording doesn’t reveal that this is for hiring a K-9 handler and training center for drug and bomb sniffing dogs. Again, this money should not go for salaries and we don’t need bomb sniffing dogs.
22)Marketing and advertising campaign for the Iron County Hospital–This is a local hospital and everyone in the community knows where it is. People will not drive from Farmington, Potosi or anywhere else when their cities already have hospitals. The local paper says it’s for doctor recruitment. Which is it? Marketing and advertisement or doctor’s recruitment. Either way $70,000.00 is a lot of money for either purpose. Did they detail where this money is to be spent? This would be a total waste of money.
24) Purchase of a CT Scanner for the Advanced Healthcare Medical Center — This Center has had major financial problems in the past. This is supported by the Panels stipulation of “If the center goes out of business clause”. It states that the equipment must stay in Reynolds County if the Center goes out of business. The hospital in Iron County went out of business and it was years before another one was built. What is Reynolds County going to do if the Center goes under? Where will this scanner be stored and for how long?
The letter brings up more than enough to force FERC to get involved with this process. It seems to me that Ameren has used this to ‘buy’ the goodwill of the power elite in the community, which is not compatible with FERC’s admittedly vague and somewhat indifferent guidelines.
What I thought was even more interesting was a comment Hawley’s comments about a couple of the board members and their view of the Johnson’s Shut-Ins. He wrote:
One voting panel member, Jim Chadbourne, and the county commissioner, Wayne Henson, who had an influence with some of the projects, do not even understand the economic value of the Johnson Shut-Ins State Park. They have both stated that the park doesn’t bring any revenue to Reynolds or Iron County. With this bias, it’s obvious that they would summit projects away from “at or near the affected area”. We own a family campground and lodge next to the State Park and 85% of our business comes from the overflow of the Park.
Before the dam broke and one time when I was out at the park during the winter, among the visitors were a young couple from Japan, and a family from Germany. This during the down time, in a cold January where ice formed along the Shut-Ins. This region has such potential for tourism. Managed carefully and promoted wisely, it could be a strongly sustaining source of income for residents, as well as taxes for the community. It could be a place for families in the summer, and a business retreat or educational opportunity in the winter. With the unfortunate Taum Sauk dam break, there is even more potential for bringing visitors into the community–though such effort does require some imagination on the part of community leaders.
I’m astonished how little some of the people in the area seem to value what they have. To them, the Taum Sauk dam break seems less a tragedy, and more an unexpected windfall, which is an atrocious way to treat this event. Add this to the silence regarding the ongoing effort with the cleanup and I can’t see how the people of Missouri are being well served b this panel, or Ameren’s, efforts.