Folks, we're getting plowed

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By Angye Morrison

I haven’t editorialized the proposed biomass plant in Gretna because I’ve been writing about it, and didn’t feel it was fair to state my opinion on the matter while I am covering it.

But there are some things that have been drawn to my attention that I feel I need to address in this format.

First of all, ADAGE has said one of the best things about having its facility in Gadsden County would be the contributions it will make to the tax base. Is this before or after the estimated 80 percent tax abatement ADAGE plans to ask the county for?

And what about the taxes ADAGE will pay to the city of Gretna?  Apparently, there will be a 60 percent property tax abatement for the first 10 years of commercial operations of the facility.

I’m no math wizard, but it looks to me like ADAGE is getting quite a deal here. Gadsden County and the city of Gretna, in my opinion, are getting the shaft.

The thing that has a lot of folks upset is that, at press time, there have been no public meetings held by the county, city or ADAGE to discuss the plant and answer all the questions being raised. The Times met with an ADAGE official recently who said they are ready to answer questions. I was directed to their Web site, which now features a question and answer page. But the questions don’t include some of those most important to local folks. The answers given to the questions that are posted were definitely cleared through a board-certified spin doctor.

If you ask the folks at city hall in Gretna about the project, they will direct you to ADAGE propaganda, not give you direct answers. At least, that’s been the experience of many I’ve talked to. When you look at the city of Gretna’s Web site, and click on the links given, you’re directed to the Q&A page and given some contact information for some folks at ADAGE. What would be more helpful is a page allowing people to ask questions directly and get solid answers from not just ADAGE’s spin doctors, but from the Department of Environmental Protection and other experts.

To be fair, Gretna city officials have said they are preparing some materials to hand out to local residents about the facility. They’ve even said there will be some public meetings. They’ve made none of this information available to us yet.

We did get some response from Gretna city officials, and I’ve been told that a portion of a recent city council meeting was spent bad-mouthing this newspaper because of the article we did, based on that response. We merely reported the facts. We have the e-mails and documentation to back it up. No one has contacted us and asked for any corrections – there’s only been trash talk. This accomplishes nothing. What they should have been discussing is  how to get the answers that the people who voted them into office are asking for.

If you’ve ever lived in a northern state that regularly gets snow, then you’ve seen snow plows. If you haven’t, maybe you’ve seen them on TV. Either way, you know how those things work. They come along and push the snow in the streets up onto the sidewalk. And anything that is sitting or standing there gets covered up in snow.

What has this got to do with the biomass plant proposal? We, Gadsden County, are on the sidewalk. ADAGE is driving the snow plow.

You do the math.

E-mail your comments and suggestions to me at editor@gadcotimes.com.