Last updated: August 19. 2014 2:43PM - 2747 Views
By Kitsey E. Burns kburns@civitasmedia.com

Courtney resident Kathy Rigsbee addresses the Yadkin County commissioners about the issue of fracking and concerns it is causing among area residents in regards to environmental safety and landowner rights.
Courtney resident Kathy Rigsbee addresses the Yadkin County commissioners about the issue of fracking and concerns it is causing among area residents in regards to environmental safety and landowner rights.
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YADKINVILLE — The long-awaited 5D lake and park, which is slated to open this fall as a recreation area for residents, was officially given a name last night at the Yadkin County commissioners meeting.

The park, which will include a playground, nature trails and a 138.5-acre lake for fishing, boating and duck hunting on certain days, is located off Ladd Road in the Brooks Crossroads area. To much laughter from meeting attendees and the commissioners, County Manager Aaron Church initially joked that the park would be named after either Sheriff Ricky Oliver or Soil and Water Conservation Director Jason Walker.

The name chosen by commissioners was Yadkin Memorial Park. The lake will be known as Lake Hampton, in honor of its proximity to the Hamptonville community. The dam which was completed in 2010 to help control flooding and create the reservoir lake will be called the Hood-Chamberlain Dam after Ned Hood and Allen Chamberlain, two men who were instrumental in laying the groundwork for the project, which actually began in the early 1950s.

“Sheriff, I’m sorry,” Church joked when the final names unanimously were approved, again to chuckles and guffaws from attendees.

“Well, I was going to bow out and let Jason have it. He’s put more work in up there than I have,” Oliver replied with a grin.

As the next item on the agenda related to the remodeling of the old jail, Church continued to tease the sheriff, saying maybe the remodeled jail could be named in his honor.

The old jail, which has been in need of repairs for sometime, is slated for remodeling in order to house female inmates. A bid from local company Wishon and Carter was awarded in an amount not to exceed $149,633, not including a possible bonus for early completion.

Construction is expected to begin Sept. 1 and a completion date is set for Dec. 31. Currently female inmates, on average 18 per day, must be transferred to other jails as regulations specify that male and female inmates may not be housed in sight of one another. Completion of the renovations to the old portion of the jail to house females will save the county a considerable amount of money as estimated costs to house females in other jails is an average of $50 per person, per day.

Public Comments

At the start of Monday’s meeting, Courtney resident Kathy Rigsbee addressed the commissioners on behalf of herself and a group of area residents who are against hydraulic fracturing, known as fracking, which became legal in the state of North Carolina earlier this year. Though it did not pass, state Sen. Andrew Brock of Davie County recently submitted a budget amendment that would include funds for test drilling in the Davie Shale basin, which extends into the Courtney area of Yadkin County.

“We’re concerned about all the side effects or the after-effects that would happen should fracking come to our county,” Rigsbee said. “The reality of this coming here could be good for some people, but for the majority, I feel, that it would be detrimental. One of the things that is significant is that this bill eliminated essentially all local controls for governing bodies, so you can’t control zoning or permitting or where they frack. If they decided there was shale basin under Yadkinville and somebody sold their mineral rights to them, you’d have to allow it to happen here.

“It also limits the authority of local governments to tax it any way, permits or fees to recoup the losses caused by gas extractions and that could be road repair or an increase in your budget for EMS training cause there are toxic chemicals that are used on these sites, as well as your police force, sheriffs department budgeting. The states that have been dealing with this for 10-plus years now have had significant increase in things like domestic violence, drug abuse. The situation with drug cartels moving in has been significant in North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, so these are things that would add to a county’s budget, as well as the wear and tear on road ways. The statistics out of Texas now are that in 2007 they took in like 3.7 billion in revenues, but it cost them 4.6 billion road repairs.

“And then, of course personally and to the public, I think we’re concerned about well water being contaminated, surface water contamination. The rules that they’re setting out right now that would govern how close these activities can be to surface water is within 200 feet of a river or stream. And then there’s how close it can be to a private dwelling. It could be as close as 400 feet and this is heavy industrial activity. It’s not the old type of well drilling where it’s one well and that’s it. This is a constant flow. They’re hauling in millions of gallons of water. For one well, it takes anywhere from three to eight million gallons of water to frack a well, and they can have as many as 18 different spokes off of that central well, each one one requiring millions of gallons. And that water that comes out is now waste water which is contaminated with these very toxic chemicals. What are they going to do with it?

“And finally for landowners rights, they’re allowing forced pooling, which says that basically if you have a group of five landowners, two of them have 10 acres and three of them total have 300 acres, well the 300 acre people say ‘yeah, we’ll sign the lease, you can frack on this land’, but the gas company says we want this whole block or else we’re not going to do it, under these rules they can force those other people who don’t want it, to have their land fracked.”

Rigsbee also provided handouts to the commissioners on fracking. At the close of meeting during the commissioner comments, the commissioners thanked Rigsbee for sharing the information and said that while it was not something they necessarily had the power to do anything about, they said it was certainly a topic to be learned about and the possible effects it could have in the community.

Yadkin Comprehensive Transportation Plan

Also on Monday, Michael Poston of the Yadkin County Planning and Development Department, announced that the Yadkin County Comprehensive Transportation Plan (CTP) has been completed by the N.C. Department of Transportation. DOT officials will present the plan to the community and allow time for public comments on Aug. 26 from 5 to 7 p.m. in the Commissioners Chambers. A few of the projects included in the recommended plan involve adding multiple roundabouts to the section of U.S. 601 through Yadkinville, a new bridge that would replace the old Hugh Chatham Bridge between Jonesville and Elkin and the widening of several county roads. Though a rail line through Yadkin County was not officially added to the CTP, it was noted that the county is interested in rail as a future project to support area industries.

The county offices will be closed on Sept. 1 in observance of Labor Day and the next commissioners meeting has been rescheduled to Sept. 2 at 9 a.m. A public hearing on a potential rezoning in the Windsor’s Crossroads area is scheduled to take place at the Sept. 15 meeting at 7 p.m.

Kitsey E. Burns may be reached at 336-679-2341 or on Twitter @RippleReporterK.

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