|The Skyline Coming Down Skytop Mountian, Centre County, at Dusk|
Voice of the Mountain
by Shawn K. Inlow
Even writing about the landfill issue stinks.
But I have made some inquiries into the issue for a couple days now and, being late arriving at the scene, my information is rounding into shape.
It is tough writing about an issue that you care about when people you care about lie on both sides of the issue. For me, though, being at odds on an issue does not preclude friendship nor the need to be as honest as you can. I asked a lot of tough questions in yesterday's post and, frankly, I felt bad asking them. But some answers are beginning to filter in.
I was glad to establish contact with Robert Rovner, President of Pa. Waste LLC, who was good enough to talk with me about his application for the Boggs Township Landfill and Mr. Rovner was good enough to set up a personal contact with the group's engineering consultant, John Vargo, who spoke at Tuesday night's DEP public meeting. I am looking forward to sending Mr. Rovner a list of questions today and to having Mr. Vargo enlighten me on other issues that were raised here yesterday.
One of our readers, Shawn Wilson, has old ties to the railroad industry and commented yesterday that a rail line into the site is a possibility, which could mitigate some of the truck traffic that is such a sticking point with many.
My sister-in-law, Maureen Inlow, is the republican Register and Recorder for Clearfield County (Full disclosure: I go out on the Mountain and put up those campaign signs everyone hates when she's gotta run for reelection.) and we were sitting down at a big family dinner last night at St. Charles Cafe in Clearfield and the topic arose. Mo says that the deed to the proposed landfill site gets more visitors than Niagara Falls on a daily basis.
Let's go to the mat with Mr. Rovner, who phoned me while driving yesterday afternoon on a spotty connection. Can you hear me now? Good. Rovner says his investors (listed by name yesterday, scroll down) live in the Chester and Montgomery County areas of Pennsylvania.
"Economic progress takes a lot of time," said Mr. Rovner. "And the project means millions in revenue to the local area so that they can have ballfields, fire engines and libraries."
The numbers revealed at Tuesday's meeting were quoted around $60 million to Boggs Township over the 25 year life of the landfill and a whopping $400 million in economic activity in the Clearfield region. I don't know what the GDP of Clearfield County is (yet another question to go and dig up) but that sounds like a right argument for the economic benefit of the plan.
Mr. Rovner blamed former State Rep. Camille George for holding up the process, "Over an animosity he had against Mr. Walker."
This statement goes to a long and ugly political fight around here that, to the Mountain, seems based in both party politics and ideological differences. C. Allen Walker has been doing business here for decades and Rep. George has been at the levers of regulations over that business. You can imagine that the Mountain wants to stay as far away from that donnybrook as possible, but it is an element of this political debate, especially since a guy from down east knows it and references it right out of the box.
I asked Mr. Rovner about acid mine drainage at the site and whether or not there were any mitigation efforts in play there. Rovner said there was no acid mine drainage at the landfill site. I questioned him further on this because former Rep. Lynn Herman said Tuesday that the landfill would redress acid mine drainage from the site. Rovner and Herman seem to have different information and that still needs discussing and, hopefully, today's discussion with Mr. Vargo will get to that point.
Lastly, I really took my state representative, Tommy Sanky, to task yesterday for not being at the public meeting. I feel he has a responsibility to publicly state his position and as a citizen I have a right to know. Perhaps I'll walk down to his office and see if I still get a warm reception there today and ask that question for you, dear reader.
Rovner had this to say: "Sankey seems like a very reasonable representative and I think he will go along with what DEP decides." Further, he said, "Voters rejected the county commissioner who was the main force of opposition to our application."
Fair enough. So we're getting somewhere. See, folks, you must talk to the person you disagree with. And hopefully my questions as a resident and taxpayer here on the Mountain will be answered and I can get back to writing poetry around here - something that is easier and personally more satisfying than this stuff and no less important.
Thanks for visiting the blog today and if my writing is useful to you please feel free to share the links with friends or even leave your comment below. I ask that you use your name and town if possible. Your comments gain strength if you put your name to them.
Osceola Mills, Pa.