OCEAN SPRINGS — Tempers became heated and insults flew as the Board of Aldermen heard arguments from both sides of the proposed initiative to fluoridate the city’s water system, which was eventually shot down by a 5 to 2 vote on Tuesday evening.
The meeting led off with public comment from the opposition, which was followed by almost an hour of comments supporting fluoride use from a local physician, a doctor from the state health department and six dentists.
After almost two hours of evidence, medical terminology and comments, the crowd began to get restless, especially when Phillip Brent Dunaway’s 15-minute presentation against fluoridation ran to about 30 minutes. Dr. Marvin Morgan said he could not take anymore of the argument and stormed out, but not before telling Dunaway to “shut up.”
After the commotion subsided and public comments were wrapped up, Alderman Matt McDonnell made a motion that the board enter into the state board of health’s water fluoridation program, which was seconded by Alderman at-Large Julia Weaver.
That is as far forward as the motion moved as Aldermen Jerry Dalgo, Greg Denyer, Curtis Lloyd and John Gill all said they were not ready to make a decision and Denyer and Lloyd even tossed around the idea to leave the decision to the public by putting it on the November ballot, which was met by applause from many in the crowd.
“To put fluoride in our water system, it is kind of like big government taking over everybody’s personal rights,” Lloyd said. “And I oppose that from that point of view … but I would like if enough of us agreed to let the citizens make the decision, because they are the ones who have to live with it.”
After a few more comments, a vote was cast and the motion failed, receiving two yes votes from McDonnell and Weaver.
Although the motion failed, the subject did not die as Lloyd asked for the public works department to look into the fluoridation program and report back if it is something that they can handle. Mayor Connie Moran agreed.
Other business on the agenda was a short presentation from Ocean Springs School District Superintendent Robert Hirsch on the bond issue to construct a new high school.
Hirsch made his argument and handed out documentation and supporting facts to the board that showed the need for the new school and the school district’s plan to create an upper elementary at the present high school.