November 2008 – State & Province News
During mid-September, Martin Marietta’s St. Cloud Quarry in Waite Park played host to the arts. According to the Star Tribune, 1,200 people were ferried on buses to the bottom of the quarry floor to see “Ocean,” a modern-art dance masterpiece by Merce Cunningham. A total of 14 dancers and 150 musicians recreated the performance, with the price tag hitting an estimated $600,000. The idea to set the performance in the quarry stemmed from an orchestra player who had played in one of the company’s “Concert in the Quarry” performances in Indiana. “Busting rocks…that’s what I know,” Mike Reinhart, plant manager, told the newspaper. “I won’t say we weren’t a little apprehensive, but the people from Merce Cunningham were very excited about it, and I guess it was kind of contagious.” Waite Park’s city administrator also learned something through the performance. She told the newspaper that the show gave her a different perspective on the operation.
The debacle at the state’s Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) continued when District Court Judge Jeffrey Sherlock issued a stay on his April ruling that required the department to permit gravel pits without first doing environmental analysis. The Missoula Independent reports that although this decision swings the pendulum toward environmental protection, Sherlock once again took the DEQ to task concerning its abject failures. The newspaper notes that Sherlock took a hard look at an amendment to the Montana Environmental Policy Act (MEPA) made by the 2003 Legislature that defines MEPA as “procedural” and says that, following the procedures required under MEPA constitutes an “adequate review of state action in order to ensure that environmental attributes are fully considered.” Sherlock said that the Legislature blew it through numerous amendments to the bill which resulted in a law that is “subject to numerous interpretations” and leaves judges with “the ambiguity here in question.” Sherlock gave the DEQ a tongue-lashing, writing that “the DEQ is doggedly refusing to do anything to review the permits. The DEQ has not only violated the Legislature’s mandate…but it has not even bothered to start the environmental assessment process. Further, it has not even extended the time period involved, nor has it issued findings that would allow it to withhold the requested permits…”
Fuel costs have led Lynn Trudeau, co-owner of Loudon-based DeCato Sand and Gravel, to increase its prices for screened topsoil. The firm uses its own trucks and charges $75 for a 15-ton delivery, an increase of $5 from last year. The price for screened loam is $14.50 a ton, a $2-increase from last year. “We haven’t had a lot of flack,” Trudeau said. “They understand fuel costs have gone up.” She also noted that she has kept sand and gravel prices the same as last year.
Frank J. Doherty Jr., president of Stormville-based Red Wing Properties Inc., submitted an opinion piece to the Poughkeepsie Journal regarding his company’s six-year long effort to reopen a former sand and gravel operation in the town of Milan. In the letter, he says that “Gravel mines need to be permitted locally – good quality sand and gravel deposits are not found everywhere. In fact, less than 1 percent of the entire town of Milan has viable gravel deposits.” He also takes the Hudson River Valley Greenway to task for its role in appealing a court decision that would allow the project. He notes that the group uses taxpayer money, including his and that of his employees, to fight a local zoning issue.
Delta Sand and Gravel has asked the state Land Use Board of Appeals to revisit the city of Eugene’s rejection of the proposed expansion of its Santa Clara site. According to The Register Guard, Delta’s attorney, Steve Cornacchia, said that after Eugene Sand and Gravel’s failed, four-year effort to open a greenfield site, it makes more sense to allow the expansion of an existing mine rather than deal with a new operation. He added that without new supply, the company faces closure of its operation in as little as eight years, which would be a heavy blow to the family-owned business, its 100-plus employees, and the local economy. He also noted that the company will argue that the city didn’t take into account its plans to mitigate the effects of mining 72 additional acres by creating buffer zones, reducing noise and dust, and protecting against groundwater seepage.
The Chittenden Superior Court dismissed a challenge filed by Williston residents who disputed the legality of a 1992 agreement between the town and the Chittenden Solid Waste District for a proposed landfill. The Burlington Free Press notes that 37 residents filed suit against both groups saying that the agreement exceeded the legal authority of both entities. Following dismissal of the suit, the only legal hurdle that remains is the recalculation of payments, valued at $4 million in 2000, to the land’s owner, Hinesburg Sand and Gravel.
Eastern View High School students will get a chance to continue a long-lasting custom initiated by their predecessors at their former high school. The Culpeper Star-Exponent reports that Luck Stone’s Culpeper quarry delivered an 8-ton rock that seniors will use as a canvas to paint their class’ graduating year, decorative logos, and spirits slogans. The rock is located near a small bridge between the newly built high school and athletic field. A high school senior contacted the company’s headquarters in hopes of getting a stone donated. Luck Stone Plant Manager Terry Jarrells and Leadman Ted Robson donated the rocks, while Matt James, a superintendent at Samuel James Construction, delivered them at no charge.