County to take on activists over PCS

Published 1:35 pm Wednesday, April 8, 2009

By Staff
Commissioners endorse mining company, vow to fight ‘tooth and nail’
Staff Writer
At its Monday meeting, the Beaufort County Board of Commissioners agreed to push hard for PCS Phosphate’s permit to expand its mining operation.
The board appointed a committee of Hood Richardson, commissioner; Paul Spruill, county manager; and Tom Thompson, director of the Beaufort County Economic Development Commission, to work on the matter.
Several commissioners criticized “long-haired” environmental activists who have fought to limit the mine’s expansion into environmentally sensitive areas.
Booth asked the other commissioners to comport themselves with more dignity when discussing their opponents.
He added that his call for respectful debate didn’t signal any willingness to bend on the issue.
The commissioners also weighed in on several issues of state government.
The board unanimously voted to support State Superintendent of Public Instruction June Atkinson, who is fighting to save her elected job after Gov. Beverly Perdue moved to replace her with an appointee.
Hood Richardson called the Raleigh fracas “a fur fight among the Democrats” before voting to back Atkinson.
Commissioner Robert Cayton, who raised the issue, praised the rare moment of unity on the board regarding a political question.
The board also voted to oppose N.C. Senate Bill 758 which would shift secondary roads from state to county responsibility.
Commissioners worried the move would add tremendous cost to county government before voting unanimously to oppose it.
The group also found broad support to endorse measures to define marriage in North Carolina as between one man and one woman. The board tabled the decision to allow county staff to determine what regulations on the subject are already on the books.
The board voted to endorse the use of e-verify technology statewide. If approved by the state, the technology would be used by all employers to check employees’ immigration statuses.
Commissioner Stan Deatherage said that for now the illegal immigration issue has largely “put its own self to bed” because immigrants are leaving as jobs leave, but argued the county needs to be vigilant because the problem is likely to return when the economy revives.
Richardson agreed, saying the county needs to act “before this swarm comes back on us again.”