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Call to keep ban dies in Chatham / October 11, 2012
Two weeks after agreeing to develop an official stance on uranium mining, Pittsylvania supervisors met last night in Chatham to nullify the action, which came in response to citizen outcry at an Oct. 1 board meeting that was mostly devoted to the Coles Hill mine project.

In a complicated bit of parliamentary maneuvering, the Pittsylvania board halted work towards drafting a resolution to present to lawmakers in Richmond. The supervisors also revisited a motion, introduced at an Oct. 1 meeting, that offered full support for keeping Virginia’s ban on uranium mining. Brought back up for a vote, the motion failed on a tie, with three members voting in favor, three against, and one abstaining.

Voting to keep the mining moratorium were Marshall Ecker, Jessie Barksdale and Jerry Hagerman. Those who voted against the resolution were board chairman Tim Barber, vice-chair James Snead and Coy Harville. Board member Brenda Bowman abstained. Bowman is the legislative aide to State Sen. Bill Stanley, who generated headlines last month when he asked Pittsylvania County Supervisors to back off on the resolution, citing a request from the governor. He later said Gov. Bob McDonnell was not involved.

The action left the Pittsylvania board in limbo after it agreed Oct. 1 to refer the drafting of a resolution to its legislative committee, which was tasked with coming up with wording for a resolution to bring back to the full board. But with the three-person committee dominated by mining opponents — Barksdale and Ecker — the full board met in special session yesterday to rescind that action.

Ecker said after the vote was held last night that the maneuvering shows clearly that a majority of the Pittsylvania board supports mining at Coles Hill — even if members have been reluctant to come out and say so openly.

“It proves they’re really for uranium mining by not getting their hands dirty and waiting for someone else to stop it,” he said.

Snead, who voted the other way, said yesterday prior to the meeting that he doesn’t “particularly like uranium mining,” but he isn’t ready to send a resolution to state officials.

Snead said he was uncomfortable with leaving the matter in the hands of the legislative committee.

“The legislative committee met and they didn’t want the whole board involved, and the whole board needs to be involved,” he said.

Pittsylvania supervisors have faced heavy criticism for failing to take a clear position on the Coles Hill project from mining opponents, who have dominated public debate on the issue. Ecker said he introduced the resolution calling for continuing the moratorium to guide legislators before they take up the issue in early 2013.

Ecker also criticized board members who have said they want to wait for the findings of the Uranium Working Group, an interagency task force that is developing possible regulations for mining in Virginia.

The action by Pittsylvania supervisor to rescind their prior vote also drew a sharp reaction from the Roanoke River Basin Association, which opposes mining.

“The majority of the Pittsylvania county supervisors have so far exhibited the lack of will to represent their constituents,” said RRBA executive director Andrew Lester, a Pittsylvania resident, in a statement e-mailed yesterday. “The citizens of this county must understand that their future is in the best hands possible, when it is in their own, not Richmond’s.

“If the citizens’ representatives don’t take charge of the county’s future before it’s too late then someone else will. And when they do, citizens of this county will be last on the priority list,” said Lester.

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The Pittsylvania board is much more intelligent that the board of sheep in Halifax County. They actually have some gonads. It's like a breath of fresh air. A group that thinks for itself. The Halifax board was neutered years ago by Mr. Dunavant and his motley crew.


Most people want someone to lead them Pittsylvania bos is doing what it thinks best. BTW isn't the mine suppose to be in Pittsylvania. I own land here in Halifax and I for one would like to see the mine and all the money it would bring in, maybe it would lower our tax rates?


I thought government is supposed to act like sheep when they do what their constituents ask. When is government thinking for itself and when is it thinking about itself? Why does government need to think for itself if it is listening to the people that allow it to exist? Enjoy that breath of fresh air you may not have it long if uranium dust gets stirred up. If the mine comes we will certainly need "all the money it would bring in" to make up for the devaluation of property that is certain to take place for a community downwind and downstream. As for the prospect of lower tax rates, wish in one hand and defecate in the other to see which one fills up first.

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