The bulk of Monday night’s BMA meeting was taken up by the discussion that has continued since it was first brought up in an April 2016 meeting — should the town discontinue the fluoridation of its water supply?
The question was met with many voices on each side of the issue and culminated in a three-hour Town Hall meeting that showed almost an even split in public opinion. Then came a 3-1 decision in February to discontinue water fluoridation with only Alderman Terry Countermine voting against the motion at the time, arguing that fluoridation would hurt poor citizens who can’t afford regular dentist visits.
Countermine wanted a plan to help citizens who can’t afford regular dentist visits before voting to cease fluoridation of the water, but the motion passed anyway with a 120-day grace period to get state approval.
But on Monday, Aldermen Chuck Vest, David Sell and Jerome Fitzgerald reversed their initial votes to remove fluoride from the water supply.
The decision came after the board was presented with a recommendation to send a letter to Jonesborough customers that would start a 30-day countdown of the discontinuation of fluoridating the water. When presented with the agenda item, Vest, who made the motion in February to remove fluoride from the water, made a motion to to continue fluoridation instead.
“We’ve had an abundant supply of pros and cons coming to the board like no other, like nothing I’ve seen before in 10 years on the board,” Vest said before making his motion to continue the water treatment process without any change.
Sell, who also voted against fluoridation in February’s meeting, said a couple months of heavier research and some studies from sources like the Mayo Clinic and local experts influenced him to change his mind on the subject. Sell said he’s spent a lot of time researching and listening to people on each side of the argument.
At the end of the day, Sell said that to him, the science points to keeping fluoride in the water and helped him make one of the toughest decisions he’s ever had to make on the board.
“I didn’t really see any hard scientific evidence on the detractors’ side to support it coming out (of the water),” he said after the meeting. “There’s so much out there information-wise, whether it’s true or not true, scientific or not scientific. … That’s what led me to look at it a second time.”
Mayor Kelly Wolfe said that the issue is likely put to rest for now with the unanimous vote halting the process of fluoride removal, which would have occurred 30 days after the letters were sent to the public. He said he was proud of the board members for challenging their views in an effort to do what is best for citizens’ health.
“This is a board that operates on the motive of what’s best for the town of Jonesborough,” Wolfe said. “If this were an exercise in ego, and not an exercise in service, then you wouldn’t see people here publicly reverse a position that they took because they’d be afraid of losing face. But because it’s not an exercise in ego, and when new information does come to light, I think our board is smart enough and dedicated and committed enough that they said, ‘OK, let’s look at where we are, not go ahead with this and consider the other viewpoint.’ I’m very proud of that.”
*Original article online at http://www.johnsoncitypress.com/Health-Care/2017/08/14/Fluoride-to-stay-in-Jonesborough-water-after-unanimous-Board-of-Mayor-and-Aldermen-decision