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Fibrowatt: “Quietly they came into Page County…Quietly we would like you to leave.”

March 17, 2010

If you were in Page County, Virginia on Tuesday night, you would have seen an experiment in Democracy.

Could a large, polluting corporation muscle it’s way into a rural community against the will of its citizens? Would the local elected leaders listen to the voters? Or would they make backroom, non-disclosure deals with the corporation?

The night began with citizens voicing their opinions. There were several people who charmingly asked everyone to have an “open mind”, but it turned out these men were either on the Planning Commission, EDA, or another organization that had been in secret talks with Fibrowatt for months. Their disingenuous speeches fell on deaf ears. Instead, the citizens who did their own research on Fibrowatt carried the room:

Listen to .mp3:

Download the Mac Video .mov (ctrl click and save link as).
Size: 43 mb
Running time: 8:55 minutes

Then, unanimously, Page County Supervisors voted to notify Fibrowatt that the county was not interested in locating a waste incinerator in this valley. Huge victory. Through this vote, the new Board brought a level of respect rarely seen in Page’s local leaders.

Listen to .mp3:

Download the Mac Video .mov (ctrl click and save link as).
Size: 61 mb
Running time: 9:43 minutes

Here is link to the full 30-minute Supervisor discussion, Video and Audio:

Windows Video .wmv (right click and save link as).
Size: 177 mb
Running time: 33 minutes
Mac Video .mov (ctrl click and save link as).
Size: 188 mb
Running time: 33 minutes
Audio .mp3 (right click and save link as or listen in the player below).
Size: 28 mb
Running time: 33 minutes

Let’s briefly remember the timeline of how we got here.

The Page County EDA initiated secret meetings with Fibrowatt behind closed doors during the last year. It’s clear that this is Fibrowatt’s business strategy: make non-disclosure agreements with local leaders in poor rural communities; quietly force through legislation at the state level that gives them guaranteed subsidies, THEN manipulate the local government to pay for the infrastructure of their plant. They strategically make allies with certain local personalities, assuming all other citizens will be quieted.

Luckily six weeks ago, Page County citizens were alerted to Fibrowatt’s maneuvers before the company was ready. Citizens went down to Richmond to make sure Fibrowatt’s legislation was pulled. Delegate Gilbert and Senator Obenshain were extremely supportive of the wishes of the community.

Anti-Fibrowatt Group in Richmond, VA

Anti-Fibrowatt Group in Richmond, VA

Letters began pouring in to the Page News and Courier each week detailing independent research on the proposed 300-ft, smoke stack incinerator. No one who researched the simple facts felt that “Thirty-Dirty” jobs was worth trading in our natural heritage for a future of pollution and debt. Opposition to Fibrowatt came from all corners of the county and spanned the political spectrum. Blogs were started to publicly discuss research being done on Fibrowatt (Hawksbill Cabin Blog, Luray VA Blog). The work done in other communities bullied by Fibrowatt helped tremendously (Yadkin Riverkeepers, NC and Fibrowatch).

The Board of Supervisors then held a public presentation so Fibrowatt’s PR machine could show their product. Over two hundred citizens attended to voice their opposition, based on in-depth research that the internet now allows us to do. Terry Walmsley gave an almost 3-hour pitch on how their incinerator would help the citizen’s lives. Terry got huge laughs when he compared burning chicken poop to solar power. The meeting ended with several Supervisors voicing their opposition. It was a classic and rare case of leaders actually listening to their constituents.

Standing Room Only at Fibrowatt Presentation

It Was Standing Room Only at 3/2/10 Fibrowatt Presentation

This last Tuesday’s meeting was the nail in the coffin for Fibrowatt’s future in Page County.

However, this is just the beginning. During this process of democracy, people brought up serious issues and concerns that have existed here for years. For example, how should large scale poultry producers dispose of their waste? How do we support our local farmers? Where will jobs come from? What exactly is the “Page County lifestyle” and how do we both preserve it and evolve with the rest of the world? There are no easy answers. It’s clear that Fibrowatt’s 300-ft incinerator isn’t the answer, but it’s been a blessing in disguise because now a county-wide conversation has begun on next steps.

Tuesday’s meeting also ended with a brief discussion on the future of the failed Project Clover and the dysfunctional EDA–both are heavy weights around the neck of the county in the form of millions of dollars in future debt. We need to cut loose those who have found their way into positions of power and are actively using these positions for their own selfish purposes. This is not how democracy works.

We have many hardworking, resourceful, smart citizens in Page County. It looks like we’ve finally elected some leaders to match. Solutions will come if we cooperate, share ALL information and fix mistakes quickly until we find what succeeds. Leave your ego at the door. We’re all in this together.

When I watch these videos of Page County citizens and their leaders make decisions intelligently and decisively, I know smart businesses will want to come here. These people aren’t chumps, they’re champions.

The End of Fibrowatt Will Be A New Beginning

March 14, 2010

JD Cave will make a motion to stop Fibrowatt.

This Tuesday, March 16, the Board of Supervisors are meeting again. On the agenda (PDF download here), JD Cave of District 3, will make a motion to stop Fibrowatt from building their giant incinerator on Project Clover. All citizens concerned about the future of Page County must attend to support the brave supervisors who are actually representing the will of the people. They should not only vote down Fibrowatt, but also pass a motion that will keep away any other waste incinerator that wants to come here. Everyone should know that Page County is not a poor, rural, uneducated area that quietly accepts long-term pollution for a few low-paying jobs. As Supervisor Jeff Vaughan said during the Fibrowatt meeting, the Shenandoah lifestyle is important, special and can’t be traded away.

Please come to this important meeting Tuesday March 16, 7pm at Stanley Elementary School [map]. Be ready to give big applause and support to the Supervisors who have listened to us all. Once the threat of Fibrowatt is gone, it’s time to clean house and put Page County’s affairs in order so we stop wasting our precious resources through poor leadership. Let’s build a strong future that we all believe in where farming, tourism and small businesses are at the core of our economy. There are plenty of entrepreneurs living here who can provide jobs if they are given support.

Video Gem: Fibrowatt Environmental Benefits- “We’re Solar!”

March 7, 2010

At our Board of Supervisors Meeting on 3/2/10, Fibrowatt, the chicken litter incinerator company, presented its Environmental Benefits. The biggest misleading statement is at 3:10, where Terry Walmsley claims that Fibrowatt is essentially “Solar Power”. It’s simply laughable. In fact several people laughed out loud when he said this. That’s like saying crude oil is solar because at one point it was dinosaurs and plants that used the sun to live. Hey, that’s cool, if you think that, just don’t burn it up into the air so we have to breathe it, mkay?

Other gems include when they claim to be carbon neutral and reduce greenhouse gases. Straight up, greenwashing. You can paint it anyway you want, but really, it comes down to burning sh*t and polluting the air, water and our communities. We see no benefit to that.

Fibrowatt Presentation on 3/2/10- Full Audio and Video

March 6, 2010

If you didn’t have the pleasure of sitting through the almost 3 hour presentation by Terry Walmsley of Fibrowatt to the Page County Board of Supervisors and about 200 citizens, here are links to the video and audio. Please note that the video files are the smallest possible file size. Clocking in at 164 minutes, it is truly “Feature Length”! So please give it time to download. The MP3 file is a little more managable if you just want to hear it.

If you want to just skip to the end and see how half the supervisors rejected Fibrowatt for Page County, see this post- 3 Supervisors Say NO FIBROWATT in Page County.

Windows Video .wmv (right click and save link as).

Size: 690 mb
Running time: 164 minutes

Mac Video .mov (ctrl click and save link as).

Size: 640 mb
Running time: 164 minutes

Audio .mp3 (right click and save link as or listen in the player below).

Size: 28 mb
Running time: 164 minutes

3 Supervisors Say NO FIBROWATT in Page County

March 3, 2010

It was a standing room only crowd at Luray Middle School for the Board of Supervisors meeting and the much anticipated presentation by Fibrowatt. After an over two hour presentation by Terry Walmsley, VP of Public Affairs at Fibrowatt, the audience was shocked to hear how the supervisors really felt [see above video]. J.D. Cave was the first to break the silence by sharing a great analogy-

“If the voters of District 3 and I were going out for ice cream, and all of you want vanilla, and I want chocolate. And you send me up to the window to order…I’m going to have to order vanilla.”

Jeff Vaughan, District 5 Supervisor, followed suit by saying

“We need jobs, but we don’t need jobs that sacrifice the quality of our lifestyles.”

Another shocker was the newly elected and youngest Supervisor, Robert Griffith of District 1, saying flat out

“I can’t support this business coming into Page County.”

The look on Larry Sours’ face when he said that is priceless. I guess the public weren’t the only ones hearing this for the first time.

Page County citizens should give themselves a huge pat on the back for all their hard work- letter writing, phone calling, flyer and sign making. It made all the difference. This would not have been possible if everyone had not taken swift and direct action. However, the fight is not over. We still need to hold the Supervisors accountable to their word, and make sure the other supervisors hear what we have to say and take action accordingly. NO FIBROWATT IN PAGE COUNTY!

Standing Room Only at Fibrowatt Presentation

It Was Standing Room Only at Fibrowatt Presentation

Clear Message as You Enter the Room : No Fibrowatt!

Clear Message as You Enter the Room : No Fibrowatt!

She has to inherit this county, let's hear her out!

She has to inherit this county, let's hear her out!

Page County Citizens representin'

Page County Citizens representin'.

Huge Victory for Citizens Against Fibrowatt

February 28, 2010

No Fibrowatt in Page County

On Thursday, February 25, 2010, Gary Gibbs organized a great bus trip down to Richmond. Twenty Page County residents let our state representatives, Todd Gilbert and Mark Obenshain, know that we do NOT want Fibrowatt to build a 300-ft incinerator spewing pollution in our community. Fibrowatt will also demand huge tax payer subsidies for infrastructure, guaranteed energy buyback, and tax breaks. Fibrowatt’s plant in Benson, Minn already proves that they bring relatively few low paying jobs that are mainly given to existing corporate employees, NOT locals. Bad for our health, children, community and economy.

Anti-Fibrowatt Group in Richmond, VA

Anti-Fibrowatt Group in Richmond, VA

The citizens were a broad mix of Republicans, Democrats, Independents, born heres, come heres and been heres. They spoke courteously and forcefully. Gilbert and Obenshain listened for more than an hour. They agreed that jobs at any cost is a bad choice and that the proposed Fibrowatt deal was just Tom Cardman’s way to fix the mess he created with Project Clover. Fibrowatt’s plant would just be another way of throwing more good tax payer money into a bottomless pit while poisoning our families.

Anti-Fibrowatt Meeting in Richmond

The group meets with Senator Mark Obenshain and Delegate Todd Gilbert.

So did it work? Listen to these brief clips from our local radio talk show, Speak Out, the very next day-

Gary Frink (Delegate Todd Gilbert’s legislative assistant):

“His opinion has moved as a result of the visit of those twenty citizens who took the time to come down here….At the very least, Delegate Gilbert is neutral on this issue and has pulled his legislation..”

Mark Obenshain also now had a much different take on Fibrowatt:

“The project is clearly a very controversial project….I think my enthusiasm for economic development in the county probably got ahead of me..but clearly they need to be the right kind of jobs and with a company that has the right kind of culture that is consistent with the culture of the county.”

Tom Cardman and the EDA has had a seven month head start while they negotiated with Fibrowatt in closed, secret meetings. In just three weeks, the citizens of Page County have caught up. The citizens are the ones who will decide the future of the county. We will strongly support any member of the Board of Supervisors who stands up against Fibrowatt and for responsible growth.

Come this Tuesday, March 2nd, to the next Board of Supervisors meeting at Luray Middle School (details here) where Fibrowatt will present their plan for a 300-ft incinerator between Luray and Stanley on agricultural land. Remember that when you buy a used car, you don’t just listen to the used car salesman since he wants you to believe it’s a beauty. You do your own research on that car. Fibrowatt is the used car salesman, so do your own research. Read this document on the “Facts about Fibrowatt“, a document compiled by citizens of Surry County, NC who are in a similar position as we are in Page.

Fibrowatt Presentation to the Board, March 2nd 2010 7pm

February 24, 2010
  • Who: Board of Supervisors, Fibrowatt, YOU
  • What: Working Session, Fibrowatt PR Presentation
  • Where: Luray Middle School, 14 Luray Ave, Luray, VA 22835 [click for a map]
  • When: Tuesday, March 2, 2010 7pm (but come betwween 6-6:30 to get a seat)

As many of you read in the Page News and Courier, there will be a Working Session of the Board of Supervisors where Fibrowatt will be presenting their pitch. Take note that a working session means there will be no public comment section. So it is important that everyone write or call their supervisor (contacts below) to let them know your opinion on the proposed Fibrowatt Incinerator here in Page County. See you there!

Johnny Woodward- Chairman At-Large
1066 Honeyville Road
Stanley, VA 22851
(540) 778-4295 (home)

Robert Griffith- District 1
1100 Kibler Hill Road
Luray, VA 22835
(540) 743-5355 (home)

Larry Sours- District 2
379 Valleyburg Road
Luray, VA 22835
(540) 743-5779 (home)

J. D. Cave- District 3
6045 Ida Road
Stanley, VA 22851
(540) 778-2331 (home)

Gerald M. Cubbage- District 4
670 Phoebe Lane
Luray, VA 22835
(540) 778-3227 (home)

Jeff Vaughan- District 5
1010 Varina Avenue
Shenandoah, VA 22849