|Citizens’ group voices concerns about influx of megafarms|
|Wednesday, June 25, 2014 3:02 PM|
By JIM LANGHAM • Progress Feature Writer
PAULDING – A group of local citizens met at the Paulding Eagles on Tuesday evening, June 24 to express their concern about the arrival of yet another “megafarm” on county soil.
Pat Paulus, one of the spokespersons for the group, said that a proposed 2,400-head hog farm on County Road 95 has brought many citizens to concern over the question, “where is it going to go from here?”
Paulus, Matt Strayer and Lou Levy served as concerned citizens who led the discussion. Terry Buehler served as moderator for the group.
The premises of the group, Citizens Concerned for Quality Health, Water and Air in Paulding County, include, “we have the right to enjoy our home and property,” “we care about quality health, air and water” and “we want legislation, regulations and local control that protect us and our rights.”
Paulus, a native of Paulding County, was a professor of biology at Texas Christian University, but has recently moved back to the area. Concern over leaching of manure into county soil and water is one of her biggest interests at this time, Paulus said.
“I am a concerned neighbor. I believe strongly that we have a right to enjoy our homes and property,” Paulus said. “We deserve to have a quality environment, healthy air and good water. I would like to have us gain local control over some of these projects.
“I am concerned about land for habitat, restoration and water quality for Flat Rock,” continued Paulus. “I’m sorry that it took until now for me to get involved.
“I’m here because if we don’t do anything we will be a manure pit, a sewage lagoon,” added Paulus. “We have no local control. The commissioners didn’t bring this to us. It won’t magically go away. Everybody knows there is not an infinite amount of manure that can be absorbed. It’s got to max out somewhere.”
Paulus said that those who feel there is nothing to be concerned about should talk to people with lakefront property on Grand Lake St. Marys in Mercer County.
“You will find out if you have real estate next to a manure facility, there is no getting out; it has no market value, it will go down, down, down,” stressed Paulus.
Jocelyn Henderson, resource management specialist for the Department of Natural Resources, Division of Soil and Water, was present for the meeting.
Henderson said that her office examines reported incidents of concern in northwest Ohio. She urged those with concerns to contact her office. She noted that the primary concern of her department is that of protection of water.
Dr. Don Snyder said that he had been health commissioner of the county for 20 years. Snyder said that it has been his experience not to expect help from the Environmental Protection Agency, an organization that he feels is simply out to make money for itself.
“They (megafarmers) have every right to be there,” said Snyder. “You can’t stop them. Your right as a property owner is not equal to the right of those farms.
“Don’t tell us that it (manure) is not going to leach out in time, that it is not going to run out into the waterways,” said Snyder. “You still have a way to fight this. Make petitions, take samples, check high water, see if there is something there that promotes illness. You have something to fight for.
“They (lawmakers) have a right to set penalties and laws against anything that is a detriment to your health. Don’t feel helpless,” added Snyder.
Jerry Klopfenstein, who manages a large hog farm, said that taking on such a farm has been a good way to keep his children close to home and provide employment for them.
He noted that he has a structure by design that will hold over 500 days of manure.
“I watch the ground condition,” said Klopfenstein. “I work in those barns every day. I love to have family and friends around to work with. I want manure on my land; I want the nutrients to stay there.
“Regardless where you are, you have positives and negatives,” continued Klopfenstein. “Our kids came to us and wanted an opportunity to help take care of the land.”
Strayer, who lives in town, said that there are some days when manure from the farms can be smelled four or five miles away. He also commented on some of the social concerns of what such projects can cause in the community.
“Traditionally, rural communities have been more close-knit than urban,” said Strayer. “We come together, we can be close. I’m afraid that some of this will undo some of that.”
The next citizens' group meeting is planned for 7 p.m. Tuesday, July 8 at the Paulding Eagles.