To the editor:

For the residents of Clay County, the county commission is the small group we elect to protect our safety, our homes, our families and our water. It is an important responsibility, especially given the questionable state of the Vermillion River, which is already so polluted that swimming and even boating on some stretches is unhealthy.

That solemn duty to protect us calls for even more diligence and adherence to county ordinances when the chairman of the commission is asking to put a large new hog and cattle (several thousand) feeding operation on land that drains into the nearby Vermillion River.

County officials, acting as the Board of Adjustment, have permitted Commission Chairman Travis Mockler to skirt the county ordinances throughout the hearings that preceded their vote Tuesday to approve his request to confine several thousand hogs and cattle close enough to the river to let animal waste pollution drain down the slope to the already polluted river.

At each hearing throughout the process, commissioners have asked that he provide good, accurate maps of where he would build his containment buildings, where he would store animal waste and how he would prevent waste from flowing into the Vermillion River. At each step, Chairman Mockler agreed to supply such maps and at each step the maps provided were so incomplete and vague that his application was postponed.

At Tuesday’s hearing, the maps supplied by Mockler (after the stated deadline) were once again incomplete and vague – so much so that one building appears to be on top of another. The commission members, all but one of which have been clearly wanting to approve the chairman’s application to pollute the river, finally gave in despite the incomplete answers (and map) to their request at the last public hearing. They sadly voted to approve this application.

When you hear in the future that our Vermillion River is polluted beyond repair with animal waste runoff, look no further than the current commission action for the reason why.

Tim Schreiner



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