Vincent Town Council approves White Rock quarry request

Published 8:52 pm Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Vincent Town Council has approved White Rock Quarries’ plans to build a limestone quarry within town limits.

The council passed an ordinance approving the mining company’s request, 5-1, to rezone 886 acres of land to accommodate the quarry during the council’s July 15 meeting. The council also passed an ordinance to annex all of White Rock’s property into the town of Vincent.

The meeting was held outside to allow room for hundreds to attend the proceedings.

At the beginning of the meeting, council member Johnny Edwards foreshadowed what was to come by praying, “Father, we can’t please everybody, but we can do what we think is right.”

After the prayer, council member Ralph Kimble immediately proposed a motion to postpone the vote. Kimble’s father was recently in a car accident and is in the hospital. Kimble, who has steadfastly opposed the quarry, requested the postponement so he could return to his father’s bedside.

No other council member would second the motion, so the meeting continued.

After the ordinance to approve the quarry was read, Kimble asked Mayor Ray McAllister why the council would not allow an independent study done to examine the environmental impact of the quarry on the town.

“The council has misinformed the citizens of our community about what has already been known,” Kimble said.

As McAllister explained the town was unable to afford such a study, cries of “Let the people vote!” rang out from the crowd.

During the vote, Edwards, who voted yes, said he was voting along with the wishes of 65 percent of his district. Kimble was the only council member to vote against the ordinances.

As the last council member voted, raucous cheers broke out from the pro-quarry members of the crowd.

EBSCO Industries President and CEO F. Dixon Brooke Jr. said he was disappointed by the town council’s decision. EBSCO’s Vulcan Information Plant is located within a half mile of White Rock’s proposed location.

“We’re continuing conversations with White Rock, and we’ll see how that goes,” said Brooke, whose company has been firmly against the quarry. “It looks like the town council wants them here, so we’ll look at their proposals, but we’re certainly disappointed by how it worked out.”

McAllister said he considered the vote a weight off his shoulders.

“The planning commission and the council have done a fantastic job over the past 15 months,” he said. “I felt like it would be a good overall opportunity for the town to grow. We have worked hard to make sure White Rock will be a good neighbor to us.”

White Rock President Jim Hurley said he’s happy with the outcome and looking forward to the next step, submitting applications for federal, state and county permits. Getting the permits should take about a year, he said.

“We are extremely committed to Vincent and look forward to creating 123 new jobs,” he said.

When asked about possible legal challenges, Hurley smiled and said, “We are prepared to defend our position, and we will do so vigorously.”

Hurley said if no obstacles come up, the quarry could begin operations within three years.

However, the road may not be so smooth.

Anti-quarry activist Judy Naugle said, “We know it’s not over tonight. We know it’s not over.”