August 2008 – State & Province News
by Therese Dunphy, Editor-in-Chief
According to www.cullmantimes.com, Cullman County Sheriff’s deputies have questioned two suspects and are searching for a third allegedly involved in the theft of $100,000 worth of copper from a Bremen-area quarry. A spokesman for the sheriff’s office told the newspaper that the theft included spools of copper, wire from machines, a computer hard drive, and a flat screen monitor. The investigation led deputies to a residence in Etowah County where they found items consistent with those stolen from the quarry. A significant amount of copper was found in a local salvage yard. The spokesman said that copper crimes have surged during recent years as the current rate for copper is $3 per pound. He noted that due to the size of the theft, those involved were likely to be experienced thieves.
The state attorney general and Riverside County district attorney filed a lawsuit against TXI International, claiming the company exposed residents to hexavalent chromium without meeting warning requirements outlined in Proposition 65, www.dailybulletin.com reports. The lawsuit was filed in Riverside Superior Court. Elevated levels of hexavalent chromium were detected in Rubidoux during a five-month investigation by the South Coast Air Quality Management District conducted earlier this year. In April, the agency identified piles of cement dust at TXI’s plant as the likely cause of elevated chemical levels. The state has not determined the amount it will seek in penalties and restitution, but the company is subject to a fine of $2,500 a day for violations. In June, TXI agreed to pay $1 million in penalties and reimbursement fees to the AQMD as part of its agreement to reduce the chemical levels.
Gov. Charlie Crist announced a $1.75 billion deal to reclaim a portion of the northern Everglades that may impact plans to mine a portion of the site. According to the Palm Beach Post, the state plans to buy 187,000 acres from U.S. Sugar Corp., and lease the land back to the company for the next six years to offset its $2.2 billion price tag. Florida Rock Industries had already announced plans to mine 7,036 acres of that land. Palm Beach County granted zoning approval for the project in April. “We’re moving ahead with the permitting process for the leased property,” said David Donaldson, spokesman for Vulcan Materials Co., Florida Rock’s parent company. “We plan to mine there when permits are received.” Managers with the South Florida Water Management District told the newspaper that a mine could complicate its plans to create a continuous path of marshes and reservoirs connecting the lake with the Everglades.
The Bourbon County Public Works Department touted its new screening plant as allowing it to double aggregate production at its Bourbon County Rock Quarry, The Fort Scott Tribune reports. “We can fix roads at a faster rate. We’re getting better, cleaner rock,” Bourbon County Public Works Supervisor Clyde Killion told the newspaper. “Producing rock at two different stackers doubles our output of rock.” He added that because the county can produce its own rock, the cost is much lower than it would be if the county had to purchase it elsewhere. The county also changed its schedule from five eight-hour days to four 10-hour days to reduce time setting up and shutting down work sites and to spend more time laying pavement.
Steve Tripp, marketing manager for Chaney Enterprises, was named the “2007 Promoter of the Year” by the Maryland Ready Mix Concrete Association (MRMCA) on June 9. Tripp was described as a champion of pervious concrete and was recognized for his efforts and forward thinking to introduce, educate, and promote pervious concrete as a viable product, not only for Chaney Enterprises, but throughout the state. “What impresses me, as a full-time promoter, is that Steve challenged me to reach farther, be more competitive, and think about an even ‘bigger picture’ to advance the concrete industry,” said Tom Evans, promotion director, MRMCA.
Congressman Fred Upton secured $1.06 million in additional funding to dredge St. Joseph Harbor, U.S. Fed News reports. Although the inner harbor is currently being dredged to a depth of 22 feet, the additional funds are expected to ensure that the depth of the inner and outer harbors is maintained in 2009. In March, a tug and barge were unable to reach the commercial docks. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was brought in and reported that 180,000 cubic yards of sediment had choked the ability of ships to reach commercial docks. The Corps also expedited dredging of the harbor. The inner harbor is a key port for transportation of limestone, sand, and gravel used for state highways. The loss of shipping could triple the cost of those projects if not alleviated.
The Koochiching County Board voted 4-1 against Bowman Construction’s request for a zoning change and conditional use permit for a 4-acre quarry on an 80-acre site. According to the International Falls Daily Journal, 16 people interested in the project attended the county board meeting. Residents voiced concerns about the impact of a commercial project in a residential area, as well as fears regarding truck traffic and area wells. Commissioners raised concerns about the county’s process for applying for a permit and meeting notification requirements. Neighbors within one-half mile of the proposed site were notified and a notification was printed in a local newspaper. The newspaper also reported that the county is expected to have a shortage of materials needed for road maintenance in the future.
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