Where Sparta is concerned, said Town Board Chair John Miller after the Dec. 7 surprise vote not to purchase any fluoridated water from the Virginia/Carolina Water Authority, “the debate is over.”

The 5-0 vote came after Town Manager Bryan Edwards read a lengthy statement and a motion by John Brady.

“Good decision,” said Jerry Brooks, who has coordinated efforts to halt the use of fluoridated water in the county and town. “It was never the intention of the Water Authority Board to become embroiled in a controversy of any sort,” said Edwards, “and particularly over the matter of fluoridation.”

Edwards said it was his sense that the whole issue of fluoridation was “incidental” to the Authority.

I believe every member of the Water Authority thought it was a good thing to do, and that it would be beneficial and well received by the communities,” said Edwards. “That is not the case, as evidenced by reaction that we have seen at recent meetings of this council, the county commission and the Water Authority.”

As matters stand, both the town board and the Alleghany County Commission have voted against accepting fluoridation in any water supplied by the Water Authority. So far neither the Independence, Va., Town Board nor the Grayson County, Va., Board of Supervisors have made a decision.

Instead of agreeing with the doctors and dentists in the community and state public health bodies, Edwards said, “we have also heard from some of our citizens who have voiced their strong opposition… Several of them are here tonight to represent their views.”

Edwards added, “I would offer that this type of division within our community is not productive and detracts from the many positive projects and initiatives that we are working on.”