Homer, Ill. – Despite having voted against a potable water contract with Sunrise Coal at its February 11th meeting, the village trustees decided to reconsider the unaltered contract for potable water at their March 11th meeting.
The vote came after more than 45 minutes of public comments.
Many Stand Up To Coal supporters spoke about how the coal mine is anything but inevitable. Sunrise Coal has many puzzle pieces to put together before it can even start building its surface facility, let alone start mining. Public and government opposition stand in the way of every one of those steps.
Steve Beckett, a former Champaign County Board member, pointed out the bad legislative precedent that was being set by the board in allowing the contract to come back for a vote after previously being defeated.
Stan Harper, a current Champaign County Board member, highlighted the millions of dollars of tax base the area stands to lose if productive farmland can no longer be farmed.
The board then debated amongst themselves for close to an hour. Village Trustees Guy James, Kevin Knott, and Roy Woodmansee confronted the mayor about his improper use of Village communications to express his personal opinions and bully the trustees who had voted against the water contract.
Guy James also pointed out that the revenue from this water sale could be made up with a $5/month surcharge on residents’ water bills. Instead, the Village was choosing to enter into a 30 year contract with Sunrise Coal.
Roy Woodmansee objected to the re-vote by stating “no means no” several times. He made attempts to table the motion and to continue it after the new board is elected. Both of his motions were defeated.
Eventually, the water contract was approved with a 4-3 vote. Kevin Knott, Guy James, and Roy Woodmansee voted no. Larry Mingee, Ray Cunningham, Mike Johnson, and Mayor Lucas voted yes.
Prior to adjournment, Kevin Knott tendered his resignation. He stated that the process of this contract and the behavior of the mayor were so distasteful that he was “done.”
The fight to keep out the Bulldog Mine is just beginning. It took Sunrise Coal several months longer than expected to obtain 20,000 gallons/day of potable water.
Sunrise Coal’s next step is to obtain 500,000+ gallons/day of so-called raw water to be used in the coal washing process. We must work hard to prevent them from obtaining this water.