January 2009 – State & Province News
The Waterloo Township Planning Commission unanimously voted to accept an application for a special land-use permit that would allow Aggregate Industries to expand its gravel pit. According to the Jackson Citizens Patriot, the company says the expansion will have minimal impact on residents. Neighbors have said the expansion will create noise and lower their property values. Martin Landes, property, environment, and reserves manager for Aggregate Industries, said the company can minimize the noise by building berms.
The Hooksett zoning board of adjustment approved a plan to allow Candia-based Severino Trucking to excavate sand and gravel from a residential lot despite a recommendation from the town’s engineering firm to deny the variance. The Union Leader reports that material from the site will be used for construction of the Interstate 93, Exit 5 project in Londonberry. The company says it expects excavation of the site to take a little more than a year with a maximum of 10 trucks an hour running roundtrips between the two communities.
Vulcan Materials Co. reported that it plans to lay off 38 of its 200 employees in its Mideast Division, based in Winston-Salem. According to the Winston-Salem Journal, the temporary layoff is expected to end March 1. When announcing the layoffs, Tom Carroll, director of business development and external affairs for the Mideast Division, told the newspaper that company officials hope that the economy and the demand for its products will improve to the point that they can bring the affected workers back sooner. Employees were given nearly seven weeks notice of the layoff so they could sign up for unemployment benefits and be able to continue their health-care plans.
High-ranking Democrats in the state Legislature are calling for massive public works projects to create jobs. The Register Guard reports that the state’s unemployment jumped to 7.3 percent in October. Senate President Peter Courtney (D-Salem) said it’s time to act on an employment-stimulating public construction bill. He told the newspaper that he’ll be ready with plans to create as many as 38,000 new jobs in Oregon when the Legislature convenes in January. State analysts noted that every $100 million spent on public projects creates more than 1,000 construction-industry jobs. Courtney proposes moving immediately on about $1.6 billion in bonding capacity that the Legislature can spend without raising the state’s debt limit. Gov. Ted Kulongoski is pursuing a “transportation and jobs act” that would sell $500 million in bonds each year for five years to pay for bridges, roads, and public transit.
First Rate Excavate agreed to restrictions on its proposed sand mining while gaining approval of a conditional-use permit from the Sioux Falls Planning Commission. According to the Argus Leader, the producer will mine from the sides of hills on about 25 acres of its property adjacent to Great Bear Park. Mining would extend to depths of 150 feet below the site’s highest elevation. Restrictions include a 40-foot setback on the western and southern property lines, installation of a split-rail fence along its property, a buffer zone of three rows of trees, and an annual inspection of its reclamation work by representatives of city and Great Bear parks. An engineer for the company said that owners hoped to begin the project by spring time.
The Staker Parson Cos.’ South Weber mine received the Safest Mine Achievement Award in the sand-and-gravel category for the Mine Safety and Health Administration’s Rocky Mountain district. The mine had no violations during more than 1,000 man hours of work per employee in 2007. It was the best record of the district’s 1,534 gravel pits.
Emmett Snead, owner of Snead’s Asparagus Farm, received approval from Caroline County officials to proceed with a 50-acre mining operation. The Free Lance-Star reports that the site now needs state approval to begin what has been dubbed a controversial mining operation. The newspaper notes that the Board of Supervisors “went against the predominant public sentiment in voting 3-2 for the special-exception permit.” Petitions were submitted to the board both in favor and against the proposal. A staff report from the planning and community development director noted that an environmental planner for the county noted no adverse affects on the local river due to the project. “Honesty and common sense won out over half-truths and fear-mongering,” Snead told the newspaper.