Citing personal reasons, Athens City Council member Joe Whatley resigned on Monday following a five-and-a-half hour meeting.
Whatley was first elected to the Place 3 seat in 2014. He previously served on the Athens Municipal Water Authority board.
Whatley is the second council member to resign since October, when Place 1 council member Tres Winn left because he was moving out of the city limits. Robert Gross was chosen in November to serve the remainder of Winn’s term.
At the meeting, council members discussed whether the city would continue to add fluoride to the water system. Mayor Monte Montgomery said the practice of adding fluoride to the city’s water was started by AMWA in 1984.
“This came up when AMWA and the city of Athens renegotiated the contract (in 2014),” Montgomery said. “Councilman Whatley and I were involved with that.”
When the city ordered a water-rate study, council members learned it was not mandatory or necessary to add fluoride to the water supply.
“Councilman Whatley and I thought, if it’s not mandatory, we need to look at it,” Montgomery said.
Managing Director of Public Services Ryan Adams said fluoride is a broad spectrum solution to poor dental health.
“Proponents of fluoride, they are mostly at the higher level of medical and federal regulatory entities,” he said.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Dental Association are two major supporters of the additive. Opponents say it can cause an array of problems, including dental fluorosis.
Adams said city officials have not [thought about] any additional fluoride since the council considered eliminating it in 2016. The council voted at that time to deny a bid to buy additional fluoride.
“We’re still exhausting those existing supplies,” Adams said.
The city has received numerous e-mails for and against fluoridation, Adams said. Three dentists gave their opinions on whether the substance was a benefit to a person’s dental health.
Dr. Steve Woodruff said he opposes fluoridation of the water.
“It is a drug. It is required, therefore, to be administered with informed consent. And I don’t think you’re doing that.”
Dr. Mark Roberts thinks fluoride is beneficial and should be continued.
“If you look at the bottom of the page, you’ll see all of the dentists and dental professionals in town that agree with me, as well as 9,000 members of the American Dental Association that think fluoridation is a tremendous boon to the community,” he said.
Dr. Blake Vincent said his office has been fluoride-free from 15 to 18 years.
“There’s a difference between endorsement and science,” Vincent said. “If you look at the science, it is very harmful.”
Vincent said the fluoride being added to the water supply is not pharmaceutical grade.
Council members tabled the issue for further discussion.
Adams said fluoride is added to the water from Lake Athens but is not added to the well water pumped into the water supply. That makes regulating the amount of fluoride going to each of the water customers difficult.
Also on Monday, council members…
*Original article titled, Whatley to leave council, online at http://www.athensreview.com/news/whatley-to-leave-council/article_598d45ea-df93-11e7-a4f5-0f87726bfccf.html