The debate over adding a compound to public water supplies to fight tooth decay will be renewed this week in Joplin and Carl Junction.
The city councils in both cities are expected to vote Tuesday night on whether to add fluoride to the water.
Fluoridation supporters and opponents have signed up to speak to the Joplin council, which meets at 6 p.m. at City Hall, 303 E. Third St.
In Carl Junction, the council will allow anyone with an opinion to speak during a public hearing. That meeting starts at 7 p.m. at City Hall, 800 E. Pennell St.
The Joplin City Council granted preliminary approval last month to a plan to fluoridate the city’s water supply. The final votes on the issue are scheduled for Tuesday.
In Carl Junction, the council voted to instruct the city attorney to draft an ordinance authorizing fluoridation. The council will vote on the ordinance Tuesday.
Webb City’s council committed to fluoridation last month. City Administrator Change Morgan said last week that he is looking for the least expensive way for the city to purchase fluoride pumps and the chemical. The cost of fluoridation will be included in next year’s city budget.
In Joplin, dentist Ray Bollin, 410 S. Pearl Ave., and Ashey Micklethwaite, 2528 W. 30th St., are scheduled to speak to the Joplin council on behalf of Operation: Smiles. It is a pro-fluoride group formed after a 2001 Community Health Assessment said Jasper and Newton county residents favored fluoridation.
“I’m basically reinforcing our message that we gave the last time: Community water fluoridation is safe, affordable, fair and effective,” Micklethwaite said.
Micklethwaite said she expects a large crowd to attend the meeting.
Jeffrey Johnson, 811 Bittersweet Lane, a chiropractor, said in a brief telephone interview Friday that he is going to speak against fluoridation.
Fred King, a longtime fluoridation foe, said representatives of his group, the Joplin Pure Water Association, will not speak at Tuesday’s meeting. “We are going along, but we can’t do anything until they get the ordinance,” he said.
King says he is organizing petition carriers and has 15 to 20 volunteers willing to collect signatures to try to force a referendum on the issue.
Joplin’s city charter says King needs to have his petition signed by 15 percent of registered voters to compel the council to ask for a public vote.
“It is actually a very poisonous substance, and there is a lot of literature against it,” King said. “The people are not learning.”