State and Province News January 2013
By Therese Dunphy
Decatur police arrested a man who was making false 911 calls in order to burglarize a business. According to Decatur WAFF, Christopher Stricklin made two false calls, including one reporting a shooting at Vulcan Materials in Trinity, before being caught. He admitted to making the calls to distract the police so he could burglarize a business.
Granite Construction Co. announced that it reached an accord with the Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians to resolve a land-use dispute involving the proposed Liberty Quarry project in Riverside County and end the proposed quarry. The two groups announced the sale of 354 acres of land that was part of the project to the tribe for $3 million, as well as the completion of a separate inter-dependent and comprehensive settlement and release agreement under which Pechanga will pay Granite $17.35 million to settle the dispute over the proposed quarry project. Under the terms of the agreement, Granite has also agreed to not own or operate a quarry within a 6-mile radius to the north of the property and 3 miles to the south through 2035.
Fresno County Supervisor Henry Perea accused Cemex of playing politics with county leaders to push forward a failed plan to mine Jesse Morrow Mountain, The San Diego Tribune reports. In August 2012, the board voted 2-2 to deny approval of the project’s environmental review. One supervisor recused herself from the vote due to a conflict of interest. A second — who voted against the review — was scheduled to step down in December. Perea claimed Cemex was stalling the appeal until a supervisor who is perceived to be more business friendly takes that member’s seat, and scheduled the appeal to be held in mid-December. In late November, however, Cemex sent a letter to Fresno County saying it intends to end its long-time pursuit of a quarry, but wants the county to reconsider granting approval of its failed environmental review. The environmental review, its spokesperson told the Fresno Bee, held significant value and could help plan for other projects on the site.
The Washington Parish Council introduced a resolution that proposes a severance tax on “gravel and other related material” including sand, clay, and top soil. The Daily News reports the resolution states that there are no current severance taxes on these resources and asks the state Policy Jury Association to propose a legislative act to tax the “natural resources severed from the soil or water.” The council’s Infrastructure Committee is now tasked with developing a proposed amount of tax, either per pound or per ton. The council chairman said that the proposal got a good reception at a Region 6 meeting, He also said that he hopes “all other parishes that have gravel will get on board,” and the measure will move forward to the state Legislature.
Sharon Hornsby, dean of Northshore Technical Community College, recently touted the school’s mine safety program. According to the Amite-Tangi Digest, Hornsby noted that students could get mine safety training for $20, $50 less than surrounding programs. She also said the program has a full-time instructor and two adjunct instructors to provide safety training. The Tangipahoa and Florida Parishes near the school have numerous sand and gravel mining operations.
At Aggregates Manager’s press time, Oronoko Township planning commissioners were planning for their third meeting to discuss Dr. Phil Hecht’s special-use permit application. The Herald-Palladium reports that Hecht wants to mine gravel on his property in Berrien Springs, but before approving the permit, commissioners have asked for additional information about the impact of an operation on surrounding property values, as well as how much dust would result from the operation. An engineer working for Hecht reminded the commissioners that, if approved, the pit would be closely scrutinized, and commissioners would be able to shut it down if it did not control dust. Commissioners also heard from Dwayne Knuth who gave anecdotal evidence that houses near his gravel pits did not experience lower property values as a result of those operations.
The Mopa Band of Paiutes brokered a deal with the Los Angeles City Council to provide power from its K Road Moapa Solar plant being built on reservation land in Moapa, The Spectrum reports. Anthony Frank, vice chairman of the Mopa Band, said the tribe has already taken steps to reactivate a sand and gravel pit on its reservation so the Southern Paiute band can produce materials for construction on the project.
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