Tom Kane photo
Allen Porter voices his concerns over Peabody's planned mine expansion.
Cottage Township residents vow to fight mine expansion
Very concerned residents of Cottage Township in eastern Saline County made their case to the members of the Saline County Board Thursday at the regularly scheduled meeting of that body at the Saline County Courthouse.
The board is considering a request from Peabody Coal to close the arterial Rocky Branch Road to enable more efficient mining of an 800 acre tract of land in the township.
"Is Peabody Coal so big they always get their way?" asked Judy Kellen, Cottage Township board chairwoman.
"We will fight," said Allen Porter, a Cottage Township resident.
"I am not against people having a good job (at Peabody Coal) but not at the expense of someone else.
"I am asking you (the board) to consider the residents whom you represent before you vote on this road closure."
Porter was one of about 15 residents who described to the board the loss of land value and the outflow of residents from Cottage Township due to strip-mining by Peabody Coal.
The side effects of the constant use of high-explosives, the dust and dirt in the air, the inaccessible areas caused by road closures and slow response by first responders and firefighters were all mentioned. Questions about who would restore things after the mining was completed were raised more than once.
"They (Peabody) don't have the right to come in and tear up something I built. I was there first," said Porter.
"It seems no one cares about the people who live there," said Judy Kellen.
Kelly Hefner and Mike McKinnies were sworn in as board members to replace seats vacated by Molly Wilson-Dearing and the late Gary Siebert.
Bob Ogelsby, chairman of the local Democratic Party voiced his complaints about the manner in which board president Carey Harbison picked the two Democrats who filled the vacated seats.
"I don't have a problem with the two Democrats you picked to fill these Democrat seats. But you never consulted with the local Democratic Party about the matter. A simple phone call to me the local party chairman would have been all that was necessary.
"But, Carey, you never called.
"You have really gone down in my opinion. I don't like the way you just shoved these appointments down our throats."
Harbison responded by saying it was done in the same manner that Democrats had handled similar situations in the past.
During the meeting:
County Treasurer Danny Ragan gave his report and noted that the county will be $96,000 in the hole at the end of month. He assured the board that funds could be found to cover the shortfall.
Page 2 of 2 - "Our sales tax is $56,000 below what is was last year at this time," Ragan said.
Joe Jackson reported that next year's county budget would be ready for review next month.
The board met in executive session to discuss setting a price on the Veteran's Drive property. No action was taken after the executive session.
The board adopted an ordinance to charge a $30 fee to defendants of felony convictions, Class A, B and C misdemeanors; petty offenses and business offenses to benefit Saline County Court Appointed Special Advocates.