Opposition to fluoride has found a stronghold in Oak Grove, one of the 11 area wholesale buyers that depend on Independence for drinking water.
Just west of Oak Grove, Grain Valley leaders passed a resolution in support of fluoride. Blue Springs Mayor Greg Grounds said he personally preferred adding the chemical, though his city and other wholesale buyers remain publicly neutral.
In Independence, where the issue is far from settled, city leaders have set a public debate in November.
But a majority of Oak Grove leaders have denounced the addition of fluoride, and some have called for a meeting with Independence leaders.
“I don’t see any reason to add chemicals to the water,” said Alderman John Ray. “Everyone in our family has good teeth because we brush them.”
Alderman Karen Prewitt said it was unfair for Independence to make a radical decision to change the water supply without first consulting stakeholders.
Oak Grove Mayor Jim Dent said that everything he had read on the subject suggested there was no benefit from fluoride.
“As far as I can tell, fluoride doesn’t do what they say it does,” Dent said.
“Historically the government and so-called professionals have had a horrendous track record on that kind of stuff,” he said. “You can go back to DDT.Fifty years ago, there will be big half-page ads saying how great it is.”
These kinds of suspicions are absent in other municipalities, where leaders view Oak Grove’s position as startling.
Grain Valley Alderman Melanie Norris, who sponsored the resolution in support of fluoride, found the response in Oak Grove incomprehensible.
“I was amazed to find out that we didn’t already have fluoride in the water,” she said. “I’m completely in support of adding it.”
The difference in reactions might be attributable in part to the lobbying activities of pro- and anti-fluoride groups in Independence.
Retired Independence businessman Bill Baggett spoke against fluoride at length at a recent Oak Grove board meeting. Grain Valley’s mayor and aldermen were asked by fluoride champion Kenneth Weinand, an Independence dentist, to pass the favorable resolution.
Leaders in Oak Grove, Grain Valley and elsewhere recognize they might not have much of a say in the final decision on whether to fluoridate.
“We are the beneficiaries of a very friendly neighboring city that has some extra capacity and can sell us some water,” Grounds said. “We really view it as totally an Independence decision.
But protest should still be voiced, said the mayor of Oak Grove.
“We can also get together with Buckner or someone else and look into building our own water plant,” Dent said.