Bryan Times, Aug. 11, 2018 (report by Ron Osburn, Pioneer councilman to submit motion) Pioneer councilman Al Kwader said Friday he will introduce a resolution during Monday’s council meeting to oppose the plans by Artesian of Pioneer to sell water from the Michindoh aquifer to entities outside the county.
Kwader said he is familiar with the damage suffered by overuse of the Ogallala aquifer in western states, and he believes the AOP plan will negatively affect local water supplies. “I don’t think there’s any doubt. It’s already gone down. (The AOP plan) is definitely going to hurt it,” he said.
Kwader said he initially was told other council members would support a resolution in opposition. Friday he said he’s now being told that no other councilperson will support it and believes they are being pressured by Kidston.
“I probably won’t get a second (on the motion) but I’m still going to present it,” said Kwader. “I’m not intimidated by Kidston.” he added.
Kwader said he plans to use a template resolution being circulated by the city of Bryan.
Bryan Times, Aug. 14, 2018 (report by Lucas Bechtol, Opposed to opposition) (Al) Kwader presented a resolution before the council to oppose any drilling into the aquifer for water distribution outside the area. Silence from the remainder of the council resulted in an uproar from the crowd. (No second on the motion.)
Rod Eckley, council member said “For me, it’s about needing more information. I want to see information. I have what Ed’s saying, that it’s going to be great, not going to affect anything, not going to harm anything. And I’ve got an angry mob saying that we’re going to be devastated and I don’t know. I don’t know and I would like to see some facts, some testing.”
Eckley said he didn’t expect the EPA to let the project go through if it would have negative effects and expects them to intervene if it happens and becomes negative. Kidston agreed.
Overall, Eckley said, he has confidence in Kidston and denied reports he was being paid by Kidston.
Councilwoman Connie Salisbury said the only way to know whether or not there will be negative effects on the aquifer is to test it. “I am not going to vote on anything until I know the positive and the negative,” she said. “Why would you want me to make a motion to accept something when I don’t have the facts? … I didn’t have anything to say about the motion because I can’t make a conscious effort until I know for myself. It’s not going to be my opinion, it will be based on facts.”
Salisbury said she was not a risk taker and doing anything involving Mother Nature is “scary.” That means she will need a lot of facts before making any sort of decision in this area. “I live in this community, all of us live in this community, and none of us want to do any harm to our home,” Salisbury said. “Why are we getting all bent before we understand all the facts?”
Bryan Times, Sept. 19, 2018 (report by Lucas Bechtol, Issue not up for debate? 1st of 2-part report) The Pioneer Village Council is moving forward with a resolution that would suspend debate, public comments and resolution consideration regarding the Michindoh Aquifer until the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency releases its findings on the matter.
The resolution is part of a multi-state discussion on plans by Artesian of Pioneer to sell up to 14 million gallons of water a day from the Michindoh Aquifer to communities outside of the aquifer’s area. Pioneer Mayor Ed Kidston is also the president and owner of Artesian of Pioneer.
The council had the first reading of the resolution — which Kidston said was neither in favor of nor against any plans to drill into the aquifer — during the council’s regular meeting Tuesday night.
If passed, the resolution will formally “suspend further debate, consideration of resolutions and/or public comment regarding the village water supply or resources” until the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency provides information to the council, according to the document.
“We want to go about our business as usual here in the Village of Pioneer,” Kidston said. “When the EPA actually brings us facts that we can make a decision on for or against, this council will look at that and say whether they are for or against the project.”
Councilman Rod Eckley, who brought the resolution before council along with Councilman Randy Cochran, affirmed that as the intent when asked by Kidston for confirmation.
Four of the council members were in favor of the resolution while councilmen Albert Kwader and Joel Burt voted against it.
“I just don’t think it sends the right message,” Burt said in an interview after the meeting. “And I don’t like the part about keeping the public away.”
The resolution still needs to be read two more times before taking effect.
The resolution reads in part that it is “recognizing and promoting the importance of the ground water aquifer and supporting reasonable and sustainable withdrawal for the promotion of positive economic activity within the village of Pioneer.”
Kwader, who has been on the record as opposing AOP’s plan, also brought a resolution to the council opposing the plan, the same one passed by communities in the county and outside of it.
The resolution was also brought before the Pioneer council at its September meeting, where it died for lack of a second. The resolution failed again on Tuesday for the same reason.
Bryan Times, Sept. 20, 2018 (report by Lucas Bechtol, Council affirms non-stance on drill project, 2nd of 2 parts) In answering questions from the public on Tuesday, most Pioneer Village Council members stated they were neither for nor against a proposed plan to drill in the Michindoh Aquifer.
Pioneer Mayor Ed Kidston is the president and owner of Artesian of Pioneer, which has proposed a plan to sell water from the Michindoh to communities outside the aquifer area.
Around 30 people from Pioneer and other communities in the area attended Tuesday’s meeting, many of them speaking against the plan. One citizen also presented 6,000 signatures from people in the community opposing the plan.
Ken Coy, Pioneer, raised questions to the council and Kidston
Coy stated he attended the previous meeting when the council asked for more facts on the issue. “Since that meeting, I have attended four different meetings that were informational, put on by different people, and I saw very few if hardly any attendance by any of the councilmen to get more facts,” he said.
Coy said he saw Kidston at a couple of those meetings. Councilman Rod Eckley was at one and Councilman Albert Kwader attended most of them. “As a council, you wanted more facts: they were available,” he said. “All you had to do was go looking.”
Later in the meeting Eckley addressed this concern directly, saying he attended the only meeting of which he was aware. “I don’t necessarily have the inside scoop on where those are going to be to go to them,” he said. “All these others that were mentioned, I had no idea they were happening.”
When told he could find the meetings online, Eckley asked, “How is it going to get in my face? When I walk by my computer, is it going to shout out and say there is a water meeting?” he asked. “I don’t belong to the (Williams County) Alliance like a lot of you guys do. You’re getting that fed to you on some website or another.”
He was also told the information was in the newspaper, but replied the information “isn’t necessarily jumping out at you. Where do I hunt for it? Do I go to the Alliance’s website and look for it there?” he asked. Responses were an emphatic “yes,” to which Eckley replied: “Fair enough.”
Councilmen Eckley and Randy Cochran both took time out of the meeting to affirm they were not in favor of the project nor were they against it.
“I don’t know what I am, right now,” Eckley said. “I want to know what it’s going to do to our aquifer. I want to know what kind of a difference it makes when the tests are run. I have concerns as much as you do, I just don’t want to say absolutely no without knowing what it’s going to do.”
Eckley attended the meeting of hydrologist Jack Wittman who talked of a “cone of depression” from pumping that could affect other residents. Eckley said this was one thing he was concerned about, but that tests will show the potential effects.
He also told the public not to assume the council is in favor of the plan.
Cochran spoke up, too, also saying he wasn’t for or against the project, yet. “It’s easy for other communities to say no because they won’t benefit. Pioneer has the chance to benefit from it,” he said. “There’s no intimidation, there’s no coercion. I’m not related (to Kidston). I just wanted more information. There’s supposedly geological tests.”
He also questioned the purpose of the council speaking out against it. Pioneer and other towns will not be able to stop the project.
“We have no authority; it’s not even in our town where it’s going to happen,” Cochran said. “So, it’s kind of a moot point in all reality; It’s more posturing than anything. I’m just waiting to see what all the geological tests say.”
He added he is as concerned as anyone since his business relies on agriculture, which needs water to function.
Councilman John Oxender also said he is waiting on tests and the Ohio environmental Protection Agency. “If it doesn’t work, it won’t happen,” he said. “I think we’re a year away, two years away from the EPA making any sort of decision. Let’s just wait and hear what they have to say.”
Coy attended an open meeting of the Montpelier Village Council where Kidston spoke about the project, which brought more questions to his mind.
At that meeting, when asked point blank how Montpelier will benefit economically from the project, Kidston said he could purchase some pumps from a Montpelier company.
“For the impact this is having on the community, I just don’t think that’s a very good return,” Coy said. “You made the comment that payroll tax from construction alone could exceed $1 million. But a lot of this construction money from the taxes is not going to come back to Pioneer. There will be outside contractors.”
Kidston disagreed. He said a $300 million project will include “millions and millions” of payroll dollars. “It is all paid through Artesian, which pays a 1 percent income tax to the Village of Pioneer,” Kidston said. “It doesn’t matter where that worker is from. If he is getting paid from a company in Pioneer, there’s a 1 percent income tax held out.” That would be a “sizable” amount of income tax, even if the construction only lasts two years.
Coy said the income tax wouldn’t go to Pioneer because the income tax would actually go where the contractors come from, which would likely outside of Pioneer.
“I experienced this personally,” he said. “I worked over at (Ohio Department of Transportation), Ed. Because I was a mechanic inside the garage within the village limit of Montpelier, 1 percent was taken out of me and was given to Montpelier.” Kidston agreed.
Kenny, you just made my point,” he said. “The name of our company is Artesian of Pioneer … And everybody who makes a payroll tax will pay a tax in Pioneer, first. Just like you went and worked in Montpelier and Montpelier took your income tax. You just made my point. Whoever works through this contract will pay an income tax to Pioneer.”
Coy still disagreed as did another citizen who says he paid where he lived for 50 years. Kidston said they were wrong.
“There is a tremendous economic gain for this village by doing this project, there is little risk to this village,” he said, adding other communities won’t be affected positively or negatively.
He added that the EPA will not allow him to take more water than what is sustainable. “That is a law, that is on the books if you would all just sit back and take your time and actually read the law. “I’m never going to be able to take more water than what is renewable,” Kidston said.
Bryan Times, Nov. 13, 2018 (report by Lucas Bechtol, Pioneer tables aquifer resolution) In a surprise move, the Pioneer Village Council voted to table a resolution that would have stopped public comment on a plan to sell water from the Michindoh Aquifer to other communities.
Artesian of Pioneer, owned by Pioneer Mayor Ed Kidston, has announced plans to drill into the aquifer to sell up to 14 million gallons of water a day to communities outside the aquifer area.
The resolution would have suspended debate, public comments and resolution consideration regarding the Michindoh Aquifer until the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency releases its findings on the matter.
It had been read twice and would have gone into effect if passed the third time Monday evening. Previously, council members Albert Kwader and Joel Burt had been the only dissenting votes on the readings.
The vote to table the resolution passed with a vote of four to two. Kwader and Burt voted against it.
A resolution to oppose the project was introduced by Kwader for a fourth time but died for lack of a second, same as the previous attempts. No motion was made to table it.
Before discussing the resolutions on the aquifer, Kidston read a prepared statement asking the council to table the resolution.
“We understand many of you are very passionate about this subject matter,” he said, referring to several dozen people who came to the meeting in opposition to the resolution and the plan. “Rest assured, everyone on this side of the table is just as passionate.”
Pioneer has great leaders, Kidston added, who don’t become for or against something without being presented with facts.
He said he hoped the opposition would agree with that assessment.
“Please don’t ask us to be against something we, first, do not have proof exists; We, second, have no proof where it is happening; And, third have no proof it has anything to do with the village of Pioneer and the people we represent,” he said.
Reader: For a transcription of Kidston’s statement, see The Toledo Blade, Nov. 13, 2018 article by Tom Henry.
Earlier in the meeting, the council heard from several Pioneer citizens who spoke against the resolution.
These people included Jim Fee, a Pioneer business owner and citizen.
“We run into all these people on a regular basis and I kept asking people what they thought about the idea of the resolution that’s coming up and somewhere around 100 people were against it,” he said. “I did find a handful of people who were pro, that were OK with it, by and large, probably about 3 or 4 percent.”
The concern, Fee said, was that the council appeared to be restricting freedom of speech. He asked the council to table or vote down the resolution.
“This is way too hot (a topic),” Fee said. “You guys are treading into some territory I honestly don’t think you want to tread.”
One person the council didn’t hear from was Susan Catterall, a Hamilton Lake, Indiana resident who had previously been forbidden to speak because she wasn’t from Pioneer.
“We’d like to hear from Pioneer residents,” Kidston said. “That’s who we represent.”
Prior to the council meeting, Catterall organized a vigil outside of the Pioneer Community Center, where the council meetings are held.
There, several people gathered to light candles and three Halloween tombstone decorations were placed against a tree.
“This is representative of what would happen to our communities, to our ag, to communities, literally our communities will die,” Catterall said. “This is indicative of what will happen to our water.”
It was also done to symbolize the silencing of the public on the matter, she said.
Catterall and her daughter, Katie, attended the October meeting with tape over their mouths with the word “silenced” written on it after they were forbidden to speak.
Those attending the vigil came from inside and outside of Williams County, including residents from Indiana and Michigan, as well.
Karen Coy, Pioneer, said she attended because “we want our water.” “We don’t want somebody else to take it,” she said.