April 2008 – State & Province News
by Therese Dunphy, Executive Editor
Second grade students at Elvin Hill Elementary in Columbiana participated in a program called, “Take It To the Schools,” the Birmingham News reports. The outreach program, sponsored by the Shelby County Fine Arts Council, included a local artist teaching the kids to paint. One of the unique features to their art was the canvas — rocks. Vulcan Materials Co.’s Calera quarry provided rocks for the art project. Terri Sullivan, president of the arts council, told the newspaper that, “Rock quarries are a big part of Shelby County, so I came up with the idea to use rocks as our canvases.”
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers indicated that it’s possible that unexploded 90-mm and 120-mm artillery shells are located in the wetlands, meadows, and forests of property owned by the Matanuska-Susitna Borough. The Anchorage Daily News indicates that the borough assembly will consider whether to pay a contractor $148,775 to survey 20 acres of that property. Alaska Aggregate Product plans to mine that parcel for gravel in 2009. The port director, Marc Van Dongen, recommended against spending the money, despite the fact that the borough would recoup the costs in royalty payments. He recommended that the borough simply tell the company that un-detonated artillery shells may be on the site.
According to The Arizona Republic, Peoria officials moved truck traffic off Union Hills Drive and onto Lake Pleasant Parkway after the city council approved an ordinance amending the truck routes. An engineering director for the city told the newspaper that the three major sand and gravel pits operating in the Agua Fria River bed and the trucking industry were notified of the route change.
A Merced County judge ruled that the county violated environmental law when it approved a local mining company’s expansion plans, The Merced Sun-Star reports. In 2006, Black Diamond Aggregates Inc. applied to expand its mine. The Merced County Board of Supervisors approved the company’s plans later that year. Subsequently, two environmental groups filed suit against the county regarding its decision. They argued that the county should have required Black Diamond to complete environmental impact studies on the expansion plan, but it approved the project without the studies. Judge John Kirihara ruled that, “The court finds substantial evidence to support a fair argument that this project may have a significant effect on the environment.” His ruling negates the county’s approval. The company must now conduct studies on how the expansion would impact wildlife, air quality, traffic, and area water supplies. The judge also ordered the county to pay the environmental groups’ attorney fees.
Allstate Builders of SW Florida Inc., has received more than $100,000 in commercial liens from its subcontractors, including Florida Rock Industries, Inc. The Sarasota Herald-Tribune notes that foreclosures play into the company’s woes. Gary Grennell, its sales manager, told the newspaper that he “cut the costs on existing housing inventory in an attempt to raise cash to settle with the company’s creditors, but things remain extremely tough because of all the foreclosure inventory” with which the company is forced to compete.
According to The Idaho Statesman, a portion of Eagle Island was placed into a conservation easement, which prohibits future development. The land will not be open to the public at this point. Landowner Ron Sali put 160 acres, which includes a recently closed sand and gravel mine, into the easement. Since the mine was closed last July, the pits have been filled with water to create lakes. He retains ownership of the land, which can be sold, but not for development. His property, along with the 545-acre Eagle Island State Park, constitutes one-fourth of the island, which is no longer available for development.
At Aggregates Manager press time, R. Bates and Sons, Inc., had nearly completed its cleanup of an obsolete sand and gravel pit in Clinton. A report in the Telegram & Gazette notes that the cleanup is the result of a December 2006 inspection of the site by the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). During the inspection, the presence of asphalt, brick, concrete, tires, wood waste, and miscellaneous solids wastes was noted, but the company did not have the necessary permits. “There were some violations up there,” owner Brad Bates told the newspaper. “No one actually knew they were violations until we were fined by the DEP. It’s been amicably resolved.”