The benefits of mining operations, particularly in some smaller towns, outweigh the perceived negatives, especially for local residents.
The Feb. 3 story "Sand mine rules melt under pressure" focused heavily on the potential negative impact of having a frac-sand operation annexed to Blair, Wis. As mayor of Blair, I take issue with the implication that this was a "sweetheart" deal that would allow the mining company to operate its facility with fewer restrictions.
While annexations allow mining companies to renegotiate the terms of their agreements with local towns, these deals also create many benefits for local residents and the community in general.
For Blair and all of its citizens, having the mining operation in town will provide funding to improve civic features like parks and the police and fire departments. The mine will create jobs. It will stimulate business growth throughout the town and bolster funding for the local school system.
All of these things were considered before we approved the annexation of the mining facility, and everything we agreed to as part of the deal was done for the betterment of the people of Blair.
In addition to the financial benefits, I and other members of the City Council have worked and will continue working with the mining facility to monitor the environmental impact. While there were advantages for the company in being annexed, it will not operate under lax restrictions, as was suggested in the article. We'll work diligently with residents and the company to ensure that the partnership continues to be successful for everyone involved.
As the person ultimately responsible for the success of the town and all its residents, I, just like any other small-town mayor, would never jeopardize the safety and well-being of the town to simply cater to the needs of a corporation. The deal that Blair agreed to with Preferred Sands is a mutually beneficial arrangement that will allow our town to continue to thrive for years to come.
Ardell Knutson is writer is the mayor of Blair, Wis.
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