Alleghany citizens made it plain to the Virginia-Carolina Water Authority last Monday – no fluoride in the water.
The water system is under construction and will provide water to the towns of Independence and Sparta, N.C., and Grayson and Alleghany counties.
The Water Authority is made up of eight members representing the four different jurisdictions. Bryan Edwards, Sparta’s town manager, is authority chairman and Kenneth Vaught, Independence’s town manager, is vice-chairman.
Edwards told the contingent of citizens that no final decision had been made to add fluoride to the system once it’s completed. He said equipment needed for the fluoride had been received “but it’s still packed up and nothing has been done.”
Jim Keepfer of Sparta, was the first to address the Water Authority board. He presented them with a petition containing 652 names of people who are against fluoridation.
Keepfer said there was enough fluoride in the foods you eat and he didn’t feel there was a dental crisis in Sparta or Independence.
Ula Cook said she felt children were already over fluorided enough. She also said the Water Authority shouldn’t force her to drink fluoride water. “I don’t want it…I don’t need it,” she said.
Vicki Smith of Sparta, a registered nurse who works in an operating room, said people have the right to decide what goes in their body. She said Sparta hasn’t had fluoride in its water supply for many years and she felt the Water Authority shouldn’t subject the entire community to the toxic substance.
Millie Richardson of Sparta, a member of the Alleghany County Board of Commissioners, said if fluoride was added to the water that it would drive up operating costs. “We have several senior and low income citizens living in Alleghany and they can’t afford to pay more for their water,” she said.
“I wouldn’t let my cattle drink water with fluoride in it,” she told the authority board.
Dennis Smith of Sparta, also presented several facts against fluoridation. “You don’t have my consent to put poison in the water.”
Jerry Brooks, coordinator of People for a Clean Environment, said people didn’t want poison added to their water supply.
He said the authority did not have the consent of the people to add fluoride to the water. “It will only add to the cost to add fluoride.”
After all the citizens spoke, board vice-chairman Kenneth Vaught made that motion not to take any action on the fluoride issue at the meeting. Chris Morton seconded the motion, which passed unanimously.
Later in the day, the Alleghany County Board of Commissioners voted 4-1 against fluoridation.
In the business segment of the authority’s regular monthly meeting, engineer Bobby Lane of The Lane Group, said the water plant construction was about 41 percent complete. The plant, being constructed by Vannoy Construction Co. of West Jefferson, N.C., is expected to be ready for operation next June. He said Appalachian Power was already working to provide electricity to the plant on New River.
The authority also discussed water for the new prison nearing completion in Independence.
Edwards said water would be available for the prison. “We sell water to Independence everyday and we have ample water to supply the prison,” Edwards said.
It was pointed out that the water system project was not started just to provide water to the prison.
Edwards said he became Sparta town manager in 2004 and water was a problem then and the prison hadn’t even been considered.
Don Adams, Alleghany County manager, also commented, “the water project was discussed way before the prison was ever mentioned.”
The prison isn’t scheduled to open for two years but Mitch Smith, assistant county administrator for Grayson County, said he had been in contact with prison officials and there could be some new developments next year.
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