Wednesday, January 22, 2014
APSC Administrative Judge Connie Griffin sided with SWEPCO last week, recommending alternative Route 109 through Beaver for the electric company’s proposed 150 ft. high, 350 kV transmission lines and $20 million 350 KV Station next to the Kings River in Berryville.
The disappointing ruling came as no real shock, but SWEPCO opponents were somewhat optimistic after observing the judge’s reaction to the 300 residents who spoke out against the project during our local public hearings. Surely the 6,000 letters in opposition would impact her decision.
Crocodile tears? It appears the judge, who teared-up listening to our passionate pleas, gave the performance of a lifetime. Who knows her reason for siding with the wrong side – corporate job, corporate pressure, corporate greed? – but it sure wasn’t based on compassion, rule of law or logic.
No one expects the 3-panel APSC commission to deny SWEPCO anything. We were told early on this was a “done deal and to not waste our time fighting.” The panel has three weeks to make its final decision – then it’s back to battle in the appeal process.
On a recent trip to my hometown, I was given a bag of newspaper articles my late mother clipped and saved, all about me. Included was a picture and feature on a 14 year-old boy who organized afterschool demonstrations in front of the railroad tracks near his home. The railroad crossing was unsafe and responsible for the death of my best friend. Inspired by the Civil Rights and anti-war movements, I took it upon myself to bring awareness to this local problem, and after weeks of relentless protest an order for a bypass bridge was issued. It was an early and valuable lesson in questioning and challenging authority.
Before the advent of social media, when our only local news source was the Times-Echo and dial-up was all the rage, a small group of us got together to discuss another apparent “done deal” in Eureka Springs. The Corps of Engineers had approved a new marina along the scenic bluffs at Dam Site North, the popular swimming and picnicking area on Beaver Lake. Public outcry and a couple of well-timed and attended demonstrations at the park were key in preventing this environmental destruction.
Who doesn’t love a David and Goliath story? Judge Griffin’s ruling is a small setback that will just make us stronger. The grassroots organization against this corporate giant is unparalleled.
SWEPCO obviously does not see that stone coming.
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