CullmanTimes.com - Cullman, Alabama

October 18, 2010

Open Letter to Lydia Haynes

Majority should decide Duck River issue

By Jerry Parker
The Cullman Times

CULLMAN — An open letter to Lydia Haynes:

This is about Duck River, about water and our need for a secondary source.

One: The 1999 Watershed Act has been in effect for 11 years. You and all farmers living in watershed areas have been working with these restrictions nationwide for the past 11 years. These restrictions will remain in effect with or without the building of the Duck River Dam. The quality of water has been tested for years and is of a higher quality than ever expected. So much better in fact that no future changes in restrictions can be foreseen. So unless you plan on breaking the Watershed Act, I can't see where your case has any merit. If you are abiding by these laws now and the quality of water is as high as it is, where's the problem? Poultry farmers need water and lots of it. They have been living with these restrictions also, and the restrictions will remain in effect with or without the Duck River Dam.

Two: The water plant we use today is capable of producing 24 million gallons of water per day. We currently use on average 8 million gallons a day and up to 16 million gallons on rare days over the course of the year. I think a redundant water plant at a cost of $34.5 million is money that could be put to better use. The cost of water from the city is only one fourth the total cost to the consumer. The county water system marks up the cost of water to the consumer by almost 400 percent (numbers are based on my water bill). All other water systems are less expensive than the county system.

Three: Having been involved in the water debate for over a year now, I am proud to say I have never made statements like you did in your column of Oct. 10, "The talk around the Court house is...". Those are rumors; I only write about facts the best I know them. I am also proud to say my brother-in-law isn't a member of the G.U.S.C. and S.C.C.D. boards. This is the same boards that were formed in the dark of night without public knowledge or input. I have nothing to gain from the building of the Duck River Dam except a very good secondary source of water for Cullman County.

Four: I am concerned about the amount of power placed in the hands of your brother-in-law, Wiley Kitchens, and Ron Stone, who together formed the G.U.S.C. Board. By the way — these three men do have the power of Eminent Domain. Maybe you could remind us when it was exactly, that the customers of the Cullman County Water System voted to give them this power? As a matter of fact, when did we the customers get to vote on anything done for the good of the customers? At the Cullman Water meetings sponsored by Zeb Little, James Fields and Jeremy Oden addressing the people, you said this was all done to block Duck River. Another matter of fact, is that by a super majority, 71 percent of the voters rejected the re-election efforts of the county commissioners that hijacked our water system. Yet they did all this for the good of the customer. Thanks, but no thanks. It's amazing how you fail to understand that we the people don't want what you and your cohorts are pushing. It's a pill you will never make the people of Cullman County take.

Five: About the hospital, this hospital board was not formed in the dark of the night without public knowledge or input.

Six: To address your statement that the city is using the easements to annex from is a false statement. The city is only using a space to bury pipe; they are not annexing any land to bury pipe. I think using the wet and dry issue to scare people is flat wrong. If you need to use those tactics in proving your case, because it can't stand on its on merits, next time please underline the parts you are expecting us to believe!

Seven: I do admire your willingness to fight for what you believe. The United States Constitution gives all the right to fight for what we believe. In the primary race for commissioner I made a mistake. I had the right to fight and some people have ask why I chose not to. I can't think of a better example of killing two birds with one stone. You and those who support your belief have the right by law to bring your case to court, just as I had that same right. God only knows you've had plenty of bad examples leading you in the wrong direction. A very smart man once told me, "When you are right there is no reason to argue, and when you are wrong there is no point in arguing." If I wanted to fight and waste lots of county money and time only to prove I was wrong, I had that right. But sometimes just having the right to do something still doesn't justify doing it. Don't mistake common sense for a weakness. You should not think for a minute the Alabama Supreme Court will have the last say on this water system issue. Zeb Little, James Fields and Jeremy Oden have stated on more than one occasion, "Even if it takes an amendment to the Alabama Constitution for the people of Cullman County to have the right to vote on who runs their water system. We pledge to get one passed." And we should all hold their feet to the fire.

Eight: Mrs. Haynes, It's hard for the people of Cullman County to be open-minded, when at our county commission meeting last week we saw first hand there are no limits to what your cohorts are willing to do to get their way. I understood from the beginning this would come down to the will of the people and their willingness to stand straight and strong. The strength of the people of Cullman County to stand on this issue makes me proud to be from Cullman, Ala.! I have faith in our legal system, faith in our government, faith in America and faith in God that the majority is right and the majority will win!

Jerry Parker

Cullman