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Frack free Madison County

The Madison County Commission came together for their bi-monthly meeting at the Courthouse Annex on Wednesday, March 11 at 9 a.m. After the board of commissioners consented the agenda, a public hearing took place in order to enact the ordinance for re-imposing and levying at its current rate, the six-cent local option fuel tax upon every gallon of motor fuel sold in Madison County and taxed under the provisions of Chapter 206 of Florida Statutes. With no public comments, the board unanimously voted to keep the current six-cent per gallon rate. Next, the public works department presented the new policies for temporary road closures for private events. The board unanimously passed the guidelines. Public works line item two included the request by Donnell Davis to temporarily close a road for the Unity in the Community event on April 5th. The board unanimously approved the request. Next, Mr. Thomas “Chip” Beggs addressed the board about the possible placement of driveways on SE Balboa Drive. “I have three five acre parcels on Balboa Rd.; it's recently been paved and because they've put a ditch in place, I can't access my parcels of land,” said Beggs. “What I'm asking is that the commission approve placing driveways on those three parcels of land... Before, the road and my property were grade level and I could drive onto my land. Since it's been paved, I've leased my land to Dewayne Leslie and he is no longer able to get his trucks in there.” After discussing feasible solutions to Beggs' situation, and speaking with Public Works, the county commissioners voted to have milling placed at one access point for Mr. Beggs and Mr. Leslie to be able to access all of the land. They agreed building three new driveways would be an unnecessary expense. Next, after the acceptance of a bid for a new dump truck, public works presented a revised priority list for road paving. The board took a small break, then reassembled to address new business items. The first item of business, was the request to adjust the Cherry Lake Beach grant. Due to the septic tank's new location, plans for a basketball court are impossible, so the commissioners were requested to amend the grant and replace the addition of a basketball court, with a volleyball court. The board unanimously passed the adjustment. Next, County Coordinator Allen Cherry addressed the board of commissioners about the termite infestation discovered underneath the Supervisor of Election's office. He asserted that, due to the newfound infestation, the entire Courthouse Annex must be treated. The board reviewed two proposals from pest control companies, and chose to work with Pest Control, a Madison-based business who also offered the best deal. Next, the board reviewed the memorandum of agreement between Madison County and the Madison Soil & Water Conservation District for the Conservation Technician Position, and approved the newest addition to the Tourism Development Council. The last item on the agenda was perhaps the most anticipated. Room 107 at the courthouse annex was unusually packed, as many residents had filled seats to observe as citizen, Gale Dickert, addressed the Board of County Commissioners on the dangers of hydraulic fracturing, commonly known as “fracking;” the threat of fracking in Florida; Florida Senate Bill 166 and House Bill 169 which seek to ban fracking in Florida. The process of fracking involves drilling vertically to reach the rock layer where natural gas exists, then drilling horizontally along the rock layer. A mixture of water, sand and hazardous chemicals, otherwise known as “fracking fluid,” is pumped into the well at an extremely high pressure. The rock is then fractured, creating cracks and fissures which release trapped gases and oils. The gas and oil is pumped back to the surface along with millions of gallons of “flow-back.” Flow-back is a mixture of fracking fluid and “produced waters” or water released from the underground rock. Flow-back contains harmful substances including naturally occurring radioactivity, heavy metals, hydrocarbons, brine and other toxins. The wastewater is stored on the fracking site in pits, injected in deep underground disposal wells or trucked off-site for treatment prior to discharge to surface waters. There are no wastewater treatment methods that recondition the water to an acceptable quality for surface discharge-- they merely dilute the chemicals, rather than remove them. Disposal of toxic wastewater in deep underground injection wells is commonly practiced after fracking. Disposal wells are deep concrete tubes that extend deep into the Earth and allow the water to flow into the rock-- there is no bottom. The waste seeps out and migrates into aquifers. Once the toxic chemicals seep into groundwater, vital drinking water can be contaminated with irreparable consequences. Mrs. Dickert presented the board of commissioners with a resolution of agreement for the banning of fracking in Florida. Many worry about what might happen if fracking ensued in our precious water state-- a state which has been defined as naturally porous. If fracking were to occur in Florida, many speculate the future of the sunshine state's rivers, springs and natural water resources would be contaminated permanently. The Madison Board of County Commissioners voted unanimously to adopt the resolution and now joins with counties such as Alachua, Miami-Dade and, in the last week, Leon, who are against fracking in Florida. Mrs. Dickert, a champion of the anti-fracking movement, carried the signed resolution to Florida's capital the same day.

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