Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

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Clean Water Rally a Success
The Columbia County 5: Will it Wake Up?

Even the family dog came out in support of clean water.

COLUMBIA COUNTY, FL – Columbia County residents were joined by folks from Tallahassee, Dunnellon, and other places to participate in a clean water rally held in Fort White earlier today. According to Adrienne Hudson, a rally participant, over 40 people showed up for the rally. The purpose of the rally was to create awareness of the threats that exist to area water, river, springs, and the aquifer.

Pamela Smith, president of Our Santa Fe River, explained in a press release that the rally was "to attract the attention of political candidates running for office and to have voters choose candidates who will protect our waters."

"We have lost 30 to 40 percent of our spring flows over the last 10 years and if something is not done now we will lose even more," she wrote.

Participants were asked to bring signs that voiced their opinions related to fracking, pipelines, toxins, mining, nitrates, CAFOs (concentrated animal feeding operations) and other issues.

It was reported that some of the rally participants were caught up in the moment and the Sheriff sent some deputies to make sure the traffic kept flowing and the rally remained a safe event.

Fracking, CAFOs, and the County 5
A History of Foot Dragging and Deaf Ears

In November of 2014, Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson, of Our Sante Fe River, came before the County 5 and asked it to consider an ordinance banning fracking.

At that time many communities across Florida had passed such ordinances.

Her remarks fell on deaf ears.

In January of 2015, Columbia County and other residents, who came from as far away as Orlando appeared before the County 5 and asked it to support banning fracking in Florida.

Joel Foreman

After Ms. Malwitz-Jipson re-addressed a Columbia County ban on fracking, the 5 handed the issue to County Attorney Joel Foreman, who was supposed to begin looking into the possibility of drafting a resolution.

Almost two years have gone by. Mr. Foreman has reported nothing.

In March of 2015, John and Gail Dickert came from Madison County and presented the County 5 with a resolution passed by Madison County banning fracking.

Others again spoke in support of banning fracking.

Once again, their remarks fell on the deaf ears of the County 5.

For those interestied in finding out more, Our Santa Fe River set up a table.

Again in April of 2015, Ms. Malwitz-Jipson and others spoke in favor of a County resolution banning fracking.

Once again, their remarks fell on the deaf ears of the County 5.

In June of 2015, Ms. Malwitz-Jipson and others spoke in favor of a County resolution banning fracking.

Once again, their remarks fell on deaf ears. Nothing was done.

Seven months later in January 2016, your reporter, who is also a Columbia County resident, brought up the ban on fracking to The 5.

The last time fracking was an issue at the County 5 was February 2016.

Deaf ears: it was more of the same.

The Chicken Collision
CAFO or Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation

The Columbia County 5 from left to right: Commissioners Ronald Williams;
Rusty DePratter; Bucky Nash; Everett Phillips; Scarlet Frisina

In December of 2015, the information regarding the building of a chicken factory was sprung on the residents of Fort White and all of Columbia County.

County Commissioner Rusty DePratter admitted he knew about the Chicken Factory operation in July. He never told the public. It is not clear how many of the commissioners he told.

County Attorney Joel Foreman, the only popularly elected County Attorney in Florida, was supposed to begin looking into changes in the County Comprehensive Plan and other things that would address the CAFO situation.

It has been almost a year. Mr. Foreman has reported nothing back to the public that elected him.


More about Our Santa Fe River can be found here.

Comments  (to add a comment go here)

On October 30, 2016, a Lake City resident wrote:

The three rivers and many springs of Columbia County are our greatest treasure, an international wonder and we stand to lose BIG to inept and lazy politicians, bottling and pipeline interests and the resulting environmental damage. Consider this when you vote !

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