NEW BOSTON, Texas–Representatives from cities in Bowie and Red River counties that purchase water from Texarkana Water Utilities have decided that they too would like a say on whether their water gets fluoridated.
“I haven’t necessarily heard anything negative from people about fluoride itself, but they have communicated to me that they want a say on the issue,” said DeKalb Mayor Paul Meadows.
City officials gathered for an informal meeting Thursday at New Boston City Hall to discuss their position on community fluoridation.
“We are not here to debate the pros and cons of fluoridation but to simply decide on how we want to proceed with this issue,” said Wake Village City Administrator Bob Long, who was sitting in for Mayor Mike Huddleston.
Huddleston, who originally called for Thursday’s meeting, could not be present because of a scheduling conflict.
“I’m here just to get a consensus from the entities other than the cities of Texarkana, Texas, and Texarkana, Ark., that purchase water from TWU with regards to whether or not they want to proceed with a referendum,” Long added.
Since the City of Texarkana, Texas, raised the issue of fluoridating the water supply at the beginning of the summer, the issue has drawn opinions from environmentalists, toxicologists and medical professionals from both far and near.
In fact, city officials on both sides of Texarkana’s state line have held public hearings to hear the concerns of both experts and constituents alike, but for some reason have not taken into consideration those citizens living outside the Texarkana area.
Mayors of the member cities, which include the municipalities of New Boston, DeKalb, Hooks, Maud, Wake Village, Avery and Annona, say they haven’t received a phone call, memo or letter from Texas-side Mayor James Bramlett regarding the fluoride issue.
“I haven’t heard one word from Texarkana and I don’t understand why,” said Maud Mayor Robert Wells.
When asked if they suspected the reason they hadn’t been consulted on the subject was litigation members cities have against the city of Texarkana and TWU, many of the mayors of the member cities agreed that it was a definite possibility.
The member cities are suing the city and TWU for 20 years’ of alleged overbilling including direct violations of their Lake Texarkana Water Supply Corp. contracts, of which they own a combined 12 percent.
“But that doesn’t explain why they haven’t contacted me,” said Elizabeth Lea, City Administrator of Nash. “Nash is not a member city, we’re not suing anybody, but yet no one has called us to ask us what they think about it.”
Lea also said that when the Lake Texarkana Water Supply Corp. was formed in the late 1960s, the Nash City Council opted not to be a part of it because they had other means of water supply at the time.
Since the early 1970s however, Lea said that the city has requested to be part of LTWSC at least 3 or 4 times, only to be denied membership by TWU officials.
“It just seems like if they are considering putting fluoride in the water, their first step would be to contact us,” said Lea. “It would be the courteous thing to do.”
Though the cities have not heard from Bramlett, they might be receiving letters from Texarkana, Ark., Mayor Danny Gray, like the city of Wake Village has.
“The letter from Mayor Gray states that there will be a public informational forum held on fluoride at some time between now and the Nov. 5 election, and that we are invited to attend,” Long informed the other city officials.
The joint citywide hearing, which was originally scheduled for Saturday, was canceled by Texas-side city officials because all except one council member could not attend.
Whether there will be a hearing, or whether citizens from the member cities will attend, was not the issue Thursday, as attendees unanimously decided they wanted a voice in the decision-making process.
Subsequently, Michael Brock, city attorney for New Boston, has been asked to draw up a resolution that the city representatives can take back to their councils and governing boards for approval.
“We’d like to have all of the cities approve the resolution by Monday, so we can then draft a letter to Mayor Bramlett requesting that we have a vote on the issue,” said Long.
Long also conceded that the issue should not be a countywide vote since there are communities within the county that do not get their water from TWU and therefore should not have a say on fluoridation, but that it should be on the ballot for the Nov. 5 election in those communities that it will affect.
One of those communities includes the Madedonia-Eylau Water Supply Corp.
“There is a lot of public opposition to fluoride,” said Roger Davis, a representative from the corporation. “And these people are going to want a say on it.”
Though member cities’ officials said they were disappointed that they had to take this sort of action, they agreed that some action needed to take place.
“I too was hoping that this could be resolved without a referendum, but it doesn’t look that way,” said Beverly Phares, a representative from Redwater.