September 2011 State and province News
To keep up to date with this breakdown of news in the United States and Canada, visit www.AggMan.com for daily updates.
Santa Clarita and Cemex officials have agreed to keep working toward a legislative solution as federal politicians approached their summer break. The Signal reports that city officials are ramping up their fall campaign to generate support for a federal bill proposed by Sen. Barbara Boxer, who asked the Energy and Natural Resources Committee for a hearing on her bill, S. 759. Under that legislation, the Bureau of Land Management would sell three parcels of land and use the proceeds to pay Cemex the value of canceling mining contracts on two leases it executed with the company to allow extraction of 56 million tons of sand and gravel during a 10-year window. Cemex has said it is interested in trying to reach a legislative solution. If legislation does not pass, the company is expected to obtain the necessary mining permits to begin operations in 2012.
Coweta County students attending the third annual “Back to School Bash” received enough school supplies to last a semester, as well as a book bag to carry them to class. According to the Times-Herald, the program is designed to provide students from underprivileged families, or those whose parents are financially strapped due to illness, disabilities, or unemployment, have the necessary supplies. Vulcan Materials and Walmart donated the school supplies and gifts.
The state of Illinois, through the Illinois Department of Mines and Minerals, received $219,948 in funding from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Administration for health and safety training for fiscal year 2011. The funds will be used to provide federally mandated training. “These funds will assist the state in carrying out critical training for miners in our area, enhancing safety conditions,” said U.S. Rep. Jerry Costello (D-Ill.) in a press release. “I will continue to support these efforts.”
Mining opponents may fight recent changes to Michigan’s Zoning and Enabling Act, according to a report in the Traverse City Record-Eagle. The update, passed in mid-July, restores the “very serious consequences” standard that had been enforced in the state for years. It allows local governments to consider factors such as impact on surrounding property values, existing land uses in the vicinity, and pedestrian and vehicle traffic safety before approving an aggregate mine. It also allows regulation of operating hours, blasting hours, noise levels, and dust control. That standard was lost when the state Supreme Court overruled a circuit court decision in Kyser vs. Kasson. In that case, the township refused to allow the property owner’s (Kyser) agricultural property — which was adjacent to the gravel district — to be rezoned for mining. The state Supreme Court deemed that the “very serious consequences” standard improperly usurped local authority to zone and plan. Shortly after that decision, officials in Portage Township used the decision to halt mining at a rural sand and gravel pit in a rural-residential zoning district there. State Rep. Matt Huuki then introduced a bill to restore the standard, and it sailed through the House and Senate before being approved by Gov. Rick Snyder. Gerald Fisher, the attorney who argued Kasson’s case before the Supreme Court, called the new statute unconstitutional and offered to challenge it himself for free.
Missouri transportation officials have approved a new five-year construction plan that cuts project spending in half, kspr.com reports. The new plan, approved by the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission, closes several offices and lays off hundreds of workers. Spending levels of about $600 million a year on roads are approximately half of the $1.2 billion average spent on projects in recent years. DOT officials say they’ll concentrate on maintaining the state’s major highways, improving smaller state roads, and repairing and maintaining bridges, but any new construction projects are unlikely.
The York County Commissioners took no action on a tort claim filed by a Doniphan couple who say their vehicle was damaged by gravel flying from one of the county’s trucks in Grand Island. The York News-Times reports that a York County truck driving in front of the wife’s car had a loose tarp and sprayed gravel over her car. The couple asked for reimbursement for replacing their windshield “which was chipped, pitted, and looked like it had been sandblasted.” The interim highway superintendent told the county board that people at the gravel pit told him the York County truck was completely tarped down and said that the truck driver was not operating in a reckless manner. The claim was directed to the county’s insurance carrier.
The Dog Park at Tanglewood, in Clemmons, received an $11,000 donation of construction materials from Vulcan Materials Co. The materials will be used in building the new parking lot for the dog park. “We are proud to help kick start the new Dog Park at Tanglewood project,” Tom Carroll, Vulcan’s director of business development, said in a press release. “This park will be a valuable addition to the community, which is why we are glad to see our materials will be used to contribute to its success.”
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