Despite further information and claims regarding the dangers of fluoride in town water, the county commission was no closer to a final vote Monday night.
A vote, nonetheless, was taken at the insistence of Commssioner Milly Richardson.
Late in the meeting, she moved to advise the Virginia/Carolina Water Authority that the county commission was going on the record in opposition to introducing the questionable substance into the water used in Sparta and Independence, Va.
She said her motion was based on her cognitive skills and her sense of ethics.
But the board was not willing to take that step.
Doug Murphy, who stressed his own personal concerns about fluoride, said he and his family avoid the substance and that he would be hard-pressed to be persuaded of its worth.
“What I decide to do for myself is one thing,” he said.
But he added that he is “very uneasy” at this point about supporting or opposing something that will affect many other men and women throughout the town.
“I hope the next meeting the other side will be here, and I will listen.”
Chairman Ken Richardson said the board members ought to do their homework, and that applies to those opposing the practice as well as those who support it.
“I would love to hear both sides before I vote for or against this motion,” he said.
Retorted Milly Richardson, “I have done my homework.”
She said after the vote, “I can pretty well perceive what’s going to be said by the folks that come before us.”
But Steve Roten said, “I think we owe it to hear the other side … We’re supposed to be impartial.”
He said after the vote, “The consumers of the water should make a decision.”
Asked by Murphy whether she might wish to withdraw her motion, Milly Richardson left it on the table.
The vote failed 3-2, with only Milly Richardson and Randy Miller in favor.
Miller told the board, “I will not do anything to harm me or my family, but I do want to hear the other side.”
Earlier in the evening, opponent Jerry Brooks pointed out that, so far, no one has spoken in favor of fluoride.
But County Manager Don Adams later said efforts are being made to bring in a state Department of Health dentist and an epidemiologist to speak on fluoride’s behalf at the Nov. 15 meeting. He said he will seek to present any “local health recommendations.”
That morning, at 10 a.m., the water authority will meet in Independence.
“This is a pretty common practice,” Adams said of fluoridation, “an extremely common practice.”
But earlier, Dennis Smith questioned whether a practice that raises so many questions where common sense is concerned should be accepted.
Fluoride treatment, he said, “seems to defy all common sense.” After detailing opposition, he asked repeatedly, “What would common sense tell you?”
He addressed the commissioners in terms of the Pledge of Allegiance they recite before each meeting.
“Have you ever thought about the words you say when you make that pledge?” he asked.
If the water authority “injects the poison known as fluoride into the water,” he wondered, “Is that just? Is it righteous to medicate the people? … Have we forgotten what it is to be a free people?”
Freedom of choice or despotism, he said, it was the commission’s choice.
Brooks said if the commission chooses to do nothing, every Sparta resident will be affected; if you oppose the practice and prevent it, nothing will happen and all will be well.
“Oppose fluoridation,” he said, “and there’s no problem … I would ask for a resolution opposing fluoridation in this water system, or in any water system.”
Vicky Flint said that if even one worrisome effect of fluoridation is true, then the risk should not be taken. “It would be irresponsible to add it to the water.”
Jim Keepfer said he believes only about 5 percent of the county residents are in favor of fluoridation.
Iboya Pasley, a native of the Netherlands, said her country of origin banned fluoridation.
Neither human beings nor their environment are made for it, she said.
Lujean Keepfer advised the commission to remember the Pledge of Allegiance words: “with liberty and justice for all.”
Toothpastes, said Jerry Howell and Eula Ray Cook, make it clear that swallowing their product could be dangerous.
Efforts to support addition of fluoridation to drinking water, she said, “remind me of old snake oil remedies.”
Lucas Pasley said is “even more concerned than I was.”
When the people allow government to rule, he said “we give away a small part of our freedom.”
He asked the commissioners to “leave me the freedom to decide for myself and my family when and how much fluoride we can take in.”