|Paper||Canyon Country Zephyr|
|Rights||In Copyright (InC)|
|Rights Holder||Tonya Auden Stiles, Moab, Utah|
|Publisher||Digitized by J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah|
|Paper||Canyon Country Zephyr|
opposed the commissioners and CoWest. Supporters of the incinerator were there in force as well, and tempers boiled over on both sides, from one end of the commission chambers to the other. It was a classic case of Culture Clash-the Old Moab v. the New--and looking back from the distance of a decade, it’s not difficult to feel empathy and support for both sides. At the time, however, lines of allegiance were drawn in the dust. Three weeks later, sponsors of the referendum presented petitions to County Clerk Fran Townsend with more than 500 signatures. The petition asked that "Section 2-5-12-C of Ordinance 134, passed by the County Commission on January 25, be referred to the people for their approval or rejection at the regular election to be held November 8." Approval of the Initiative Petition would implement a new law that would restrict the uses in any Grand County zone. It said: "No zoning ordinance in Grand County shall allow: the incineration or burning of hazardous and/or toxic waste; the storage of toxic waste other than that created as a byproduct of local business or industry; the manufacture of toxins and viruses; the manufacture of synthetic pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides; the manufacture of chemical or biological weapons." In early March, the commissioners announced that they’d put off any zone change on the Cisco incinerator site until after the election. Then in May they unanimously approved a heavy industrial zone for the land owned by CoWest with the exception of an incinerator, leaving that decision to the voters. What was that all about we wondered until, at that same meeting, Dean Norris was asked if he had any other plans for the I-2 zone. "AnythingI can attract,” he replied. The implication was clear—-if CoWest failed to secure the right to build its incinerator, there were all kinds of nasty things that could be placed in an I-2 zone. Jimmie Walker read the list of uses and it was downright scary. With heavy media coverage from Salt Lake City and Grand Junction, television viewers watched Jayne Dillon bolt over a table to present Commissioner Walker with a letter from a Salt Lake attorney who believed the commission’s actions were illegal. A weary Jimmie Walker replied, "I’m going to assume we acted legally unless told otherwise by a judge or jury." A Referendum and a Commission Election too With the referendum against the incinerator securely on the ballot, two of its staunchest proponents also faced a tough re-election campaign. Commissioners Dutch Zimmerman and Jimmie Walker both filed again as Republicans and this time they had some formidable opposition from the Democrats (always a rare treat in Grand County). Longtime residents Ferne Mullen and Merv Lawton publicly opposed the incinerator and many citizens cast ballots based on that one issue alone. Ferne was the retired head nurse at Allen Memorial Hospital and a lifelong Democrat. Merv, however, was an interesting choice to face Walker. He had recently retired as president of the Rio Algom mine in Lisbon Valley and had been connected to the mining industry all his life. Naturally, some of the more liberal Democrats questioned his sincerity on the incinerator issue. Lawton himself was fairly candid on the subject; while he didn’t oppose the idea of incinerators as an effective means of hazardous waste disposal, Merv felt that such incinerators should be constructed near the waste source, not in some remote location like Cisco. The argument was always: if incinerators are so damn safe, why do these guys want to construct it out there in the Middle-of-Nowhere? As Election Day approached, this community was wound as tightly as a Warn winch. Coffee shop conversations were tense and animated, but as November 8th approached, supporters of the initiative to stop the incinerator were feeling confident and the commissioners were beginning to look like besieged and outnumbered defenders of a lost cause. Still, with Moab’s long history of mining and conservative politics, no one could be sure of the outcome. The polls closed at 7 pm and Grand County residents were glued to their television sets. But in Moab, we weren't watching the local news, waiting for the anchors to read us the results. Thousands of us were staring at the Channel 6 weather scanner, waiting for the little white roller bar at the bottom to start flashing returns. As each voting district reported its results to the county clerk, Fran Townsend would write the results on a large sheet of poster board with a felt marker, and the Channel 6 Guy would race from the courthouse, back to the studio and punch the results into the roller. Early on, a trend became evident--the incinerator was toast. By an ever-widening margin, Grand County voted in favor of the initiative and soundly defeated the project, ultimately by a margin of almost 2 to 1. The commissioner races were closer, but by 10 pm, it was clear that both Lawson and Mullen had been elected by comfortable margins. Most remarkable was the turnout itself--more than 80% of all registered voters went to the polls on November 8, 1988; it was a record then, and we have rarely come close since. incinerators did not sound like an enhancement. For Walker, Zimmerman and Knutson, they found themselves cast as the Darth Vader Trio to many of us in 1988, but it was hardly fair. None of them stood to profit personally from CoWest; coming from lifetimes in the extractive industries, the incinerator seemed like a quick way to increase the tax base in a depressed county on the verge of blowing away like so much dead tumbleweed. Opponents of the incinerator celebrated. Had a new day dawned in Moab and Grand County? We all hoped and dreamed that perhaps we really could re-define our community and create something new and different. Something to be proud of. The "winners" and "losers" alike put the election behind them and moved on with their lives. But the question still remained: How do we make a living in Grand County, Utah? A year before the referendum, in November 1987, the Times-Independent ran a small story in its second section. The title of the article was, "Mountain biking in SE Utah is becoming The Aftermath The incinerator issue died on November 8, 1988 and no one has ever seriously considered a similar project again for Grand County. The statistics that came out of that a popular sport." Years. later, longtime election are still remarkable, because the vote was so free of an ideological bent. While almost two-thirds of the population opposed the incinerator, a bare majority voted against transformation to a tourist town, would load up his Volkswagen micro-bus and move away Walker and Zimmerman. In the presidential election, Dukakis took a beating from the Republican George Bush. So liberal versus conservative, Democrat versus Republican didn’t play a pivotal role; instead, it was about our quality of life here, and toxic waste [y| Knave of Hearts 'BAKERY 84 West 200 North (Just off Main St. west of the Bowen Motel) in Moab's historical red sandstone building. 259-4116 a fine European patisserie & cafe’ featuring: Espresso, Cappuccino, Caffe Trieste coffees, Danish, Croissants Light lunch & soups, Hand-rolled bagels, French breads, Rye breads, Whole grain breads, Cheesecakes, Fruit tarts. 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