Saturday, August 6, 2011

NEWS: Biomass controversy and vote


Michael Hicks of Jasper, left, lifted his hands expressively as he asked two questions of city officials that he said had been ignored earlier by two other area residents during the first of two question-and-answer sessions while standing next to Loogootee resident Vonda Taylor during a public forum discussing biomass Tuesday at the Jasper Arts Center. Hicks asked if there could be a survey to vote could be sent out with the utility bill so officials knew where residents stand on the issue, as well as why the officials would not allow Dr. William Sammons, who was present, to speak on the panel of officials for residents. "There is a lot behind the scenes, it seems, they are not telling us," Hicks said. "They are our elected officials. They need to represent us. They aren't doing that. Truly, they are no engaging with the public, which it is their job to do so."


Rephael Fleck of Jasper, power plant superintendent, sat and listened to each statement made by utility board members, city council members and Mayor Bill Schmitt with a crowd of about 80 other residents during Friday evening's meeting. "This should've happened a long time ago," Fleck said.


Jasper Mayor Bill Schmitt, left, pointed at the audience of about 80 people while sitting beside city councilman Ray Howard during Friday afternoon's meeting of the Jasper Utility Service Board and City Council. The boards approved the proposal to lease the city's idle power plant to a company that will convert it to burn miscanthus grass and natural gas.


A group of officials sat on-stage Tuesday night during the first of two question-and-answer sessions at a public forum discussing biomass at the Jasper Arts Center. The officials included the mayor, city council, city attorney, Twisted Oak officials and various consultants on the project. About 300 people were in attendance.


Doug Abbett of Jasper sat with his head rested upon his hand as he listened to city officials during opening statements at a public forum discussing biomass Tuesday at the Jasper Arts Center.

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