HASTINGS — Public fluoridation was a big loser not only in Grand Island but across Central Nebraska on Tuesday.
Every other Central Nebraska town that had the issue on the ballot — Aurora, Broken Bow, Central City, Hastings, Ord, Ravenna, St. Paul, Shelton, Stromsburg and Wood River — voted to opt out of the state’s fluoride requirement.
Nowhere was the margin greater than in Hastings, where three fluoride-related ballot issues all passed by at least a 30 percent margin.
Marvin “Butch” Hughes of Hastings, who led that community’s anti-fluoride petition drive, said he was surprised and gratified to see such overwhelming support for the measures.
“I knew we had good support,” Hughes said this morning. “I just didn’t realize how much.”
Hughes said he believed his group’s personal interaction with voters during the petition effort was the key to the strong support.
Now, he said, his group, Nebraskans for Safe Water, is working to get a statewide version of its newly passed Hastings Safe Water Drinking Act into the Legislature. The ordinance requires suppliers of anything into municipal water, such as the hydrofluorosilicic acid used in public fluoridation, to provide complete toxicological data to the public.
He also said he wants to work with the local Health Department and dentists to determine alternative programs to promote oral health.
Michele Bever, executive director of the South Heartland District Health Department based in Hastings, said her department hopes to do the same thing.
“If there are partners in the community who want to work with us, we’d be happy to work with them,” she said this morning.