September 2011 State and province News


September 1, 2011

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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, 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.

North Carolina

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.”


Oregon officials gave Ross Island a clean bill of health. According to the Daily Astorian, efforts have been underway to clean up the island since 1999. Contaminated sediment was found in the Ross Island lagoon and other areas during the 1990s, and, since then, Ross Island Sand and Gravel has spent millions on the cleanup. The company will continue monitoring the project and maintain the sediment caps, as well as continue some other cleanup efforts. The city of Portland obtained an uncontaminated portion of Ross Island several years ago, and a long-term planning effort should be rolled out soon.


The state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) approved plans for New Hope Crushed Stone Co. to excavate 50 feet deeper in a Bucks County Quarry. The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that one of the conditions attached to the approval provides that, if mining results in any adverse impact to Primrose Creek’s water quality, mining must stop and can only resume if the DEP is satisfied that the problem is permanently mitigated. Other conditions address the area’s geologic terrain and relate to the operation’s impact on the area’s geology. Residents blamed the quarry for causing sinkholes and lowering the water table.

South Dakota

In July, Kolberg-Pioneer, Inc. hosted visits from Gov. Dennis Daugaard and members of his administration, as well as Suzanne Veenis, southeast area director to U.S. Rep. Kristi Noem, at its Yankton factory location. Joe Vig, president of Kolberg-Pioneer, said the governor’s visit included an overview of the company, its parent company, and its development and growth. The importance of supporting necessary federal and state funding for highways and bridges was stressed as key in contributing to the growth. The importance of highway funding and fuel tax issues were also stressed during Veenis’ visit.


Nashville-based Ingram Industries Inc. and Pine Bluff Sand and Gravel Co., of Pine Bluff, Ark., announced they have entered into an agreement for Ingram to sell its Ingram Materials LLC subsidiary to Pine Bluff. Ingram Materials produces aggregate in middle Tennessee, western Kentucky, and northern Alabama, and has three sand dredges on the Ohio River, in addition to distribution facilities. As part of the agreement between the two family-owned businesses, Pine Bluff and Ingram Barge Co. will enter into a long-term towage agreement under which Ingram Barge and Pine Bluff will tow Pine Bluff’s sand and gravel barges on the Cumberland and Tennessee Rivers. Pine Bluff is expected to hire all existing Ingram Materials associates and continue operations without substantial changes.


Dallas-based Texas Industries acquired three ready-mixed concrete plants and one aggregate operation through an asset swap with Cemex, the Statesman reports. Terms of the deal were not released. “We see in this region there is going to be a significant upside potential over the long-term — and by long-term, meaning more than five years, up to 10, 15, or 20 years,” company spokesman David Perkins told the newspaper. “It’s going to experience some pretty significant growth, and we want to be part of that.”


U.S. Concrete, Inc. announced that its board of directors would appoint William J. Sandbrook as its president and CEO, as well as director. He joins the company from Oldcastle Products and Distribution, where he served as CEO and was responsible for three product groups. Sandbrook was named AggMan of the Year in 2001. “We are extremely pleased to have someone of Bill’s caliber joining our management team. His extensive experience in the building products sector and impressive track record for growth will be great additions to the company,” Eugene Davis, chairman of the board, said in a press release. “Bill’s proven vision and leadership skills should result in a smooth and successful transition.” Sandbrook succeeds Michael Harlan, one of the founders of the company.


A Lewis County judge sided with the new owners of Maytown Sand & Gravel LLC and the Port of Tacoma in granting a summary judgment allowing gravel mining to begin there. The Olympian reports that the ruling reverses the Thurston County Board of Commissioners’ decision to require new environmental studies on the site. It also reinstates findings that the sand and gravel company holds a valid, special use permit for mining the site. An environmental group vowed to challenge the decision.

Province News

The Saint John (New Brunswick) Council rejected an application for a new gravel pit in the Lattimore Lake area. According to CBC News, councilman Bruce Court recommended the denial based on reports from the city staff that it reviews gravel pits one or two times a year. That would not provide enough control or policy, Court said. Steven Langille, of Fundy Bay Sand and Gravel, unsuccessfully argued that the proposed pit would be too far from homes for dust to be a problem, and the pit would only operate on weekdays until 6 p.m.

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