Archive for Wednesday, September 5, 2001

Letters to the editor

September 5, 2001

To the editor:

I attended a meeting of the Douglas County Economic Development Board, which was held in Baldwin City a couple of weeks ago (at the fantastic Espresso Cafe). At this meeting City Manager Larry Paine informed us that the corner of Highways 56 and 1055 is the future location of a McDonald's Restaurant. This corner is the gateway to Baldwin City from every direction and I believe that a McDonald's does not introduce our city well. Do we really want to replace a nice, old house (sadly already gone) surrounded by trees with a fast food joint surrounded by cars and pavement? Who thinks this is a good idea? What we need is home-cooked food from a home-grown bunsiness, not burgers and fries and our money headed to a corporate headquarters in California. Let's have a vision for Baldwin City that keeps it a great place for us all to live and do business. This would be better for our health and better for our town.

Richard Morantz
Baldwin City

To the editor,

An old saying tells us that "there is always light at the end of the tunnel." After suffering through yet another power outage today, one might add to that saying "unless, of course, you happen to live in Baldwin City, Kansas."

These constant electrical outages are simply UNACCEPTABLE! I am tired of the finger pointing by our elected officials, who seem to always have a reason for each power outage, and feel it is time that they get up the courage to fix the problem.

If it is a problem at the source, then cancel whatever contract we have and buy from someone else unless they agree to fix whatever overloaded, outdated facilities that are causing the outages to occur. If that is not possible, then how about threatening a little legal action to force them to compensate local business owners for loss of revenue, and local citizens for the inconvenience of being without power. It seems that I remember that the power company had no remorse about passing on the increased expenses resulting from a fire at one of their generating facilities awhile back.

It is time for the city council to stop making excuses, and fix this problem.

Bob Stockdale
Baldwin City

To the editor:

Recently, my wife and I had the pleasure of attending a Friday night Baldwin City art fair, and I had an opportunity to converse with a friend and nearby resident of Baldwin. We talked about the beautiful Baker University campus, the renovation of 6th Street, the proposed new Baldwin City grade school, the Midland Railroad that may someday go to Ottawa and the three to four million dollar upgrade of the Baldwin City sewage system.

The word "sewage" triggered a discussion about the current status of the proposed giant cooperative-owned commercial diary (1428 dairy cows) to be located approximately 4.5 miles south of Baldwin as the crow flies. I related that the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) had recently rejected the application for this proposed commercial dairy, but an appeal of the decision is underway.

My friend asked, "What would motivate someone to attempt to place a giant confined-animal facility in this highly populated area?" I replied, this is the same question the surrounding neighbors have been struggling with for months.

"Do you think this giant commercial dairy will have an impact on the Baldwin City region?" My reply was that perhaps there will be no impact on Baldwin City, but I have been informed that if you drive through areas with giant confined-animal facilities "you can often smell them, but you can't see them." That means that the stench from these confined-animal facilities and the associated massive waste lagoons can travel long distances, especially in the spring, summer and fall with prevailing south winds.

"Can't something be done to control the odor of these massive animal facilities?" Yes, if you are willing to spend several million dollars on a modern sewage facility such as Baldwin City and Ottawa are embarking upon. However, according to the application submitted to the KDHE, the animal waste facility for this proposed dairy will be very rudimentary with solid waste stored on an open 2.5-acre manure pad and the liquid waste stored in a 4.5-acre open earthen lagoon (combined size greater than six football fields.) According to the application, over 8 million gallons of liquid lagoon contents and thousands of tons of solid manure will need to be disposed of annually on farmland south of Baldwin between March and November. Apparently, the solid waste will be spread on the land with manure spreaders, whereas the liquid lagoon contents will be squirted into the air in the form of irrigation, according to the application. Proponents for giant commercial dairies would like the public to believe that animal waste in the form of lagoon contents is a natural product and harmless. However, that is not true. It is a potential health hazard, especially when present in massive quantities and must be carefully disposed of to protect the environment and the public's health.

"That certainly seems like a lot of animal waste to concentrate in one area." Yes, it is, I replied. You have to understand that the modern-day dairy cow is a giant animal that is kept in a confined facility. They are fed and milked around the clock, and they produce in excess of ten gallons of fecal and urinary waste per day. It has been estimated that one dairy cow will put out waste material that is equal to or in excess of that produced by ten to fifteen adult humans. Therefore, the daily animal waste produced from a 1428-cow dairy will be equal to a city of 14,280 to 21,140 humans. The logistical problems with animal waste disposal created by these giant dairies are staggering. "Why would anyone in their right mind want to live around such a facility with 24-hour-a-day activity, noise, foul air and the potential health and environmental problems?" The answer to that question is they don't if they have a choice. There have been studies that reveal an exodus of people from these areas and an alarming decrease in property values within a five-mile radius of these giant confined-animal facilities. Let's face it, if the air is foul to smell when you go outside, and the surface and underground water potentially polluted, there can't be a high quality of life in such an area.

"It sounds like the neighbors in your area are going to need a lot of help to prevent this giant animal facility from coming into the neighborhood." We do not believe this is an appropriate location for this giant animal facility, and we are hopeful that KDHE will not grant a permit for this dairy. Of interest is the fact that once one of these giant confined-animal facilities gets a permit and a foothold into the region, similar operations see it as an invitation to follow. Economic development can be severely curtailed since many businesses will not consider locating in an area where giant confined-animal facilities are operating. So what starts out as a neighborhood problem can very quickly escalate into a major regional problem with serious consequences. We are all hoping that will not be the case.

"What can we do?" The KDHE will determine the fate of this proposed giant commercial dairy. If you feel this dairy will impact you or this area, you have a right to voice your opinion. Your comments and concerns should be addressed to: District Engineer, KDHE Northeast District Office, 800 West 24th Street, Lawrence, KS 66046-4417.

Arlo S. Hermreck, M.D.
Kansas City, Kansas

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