Monette City Council nixes water fluoridation

Thursday, October 7, 2004

The Monette City Council heard representatives speak on the feasibility of city water fluoridation at the regular Monday, Sept. 27 meeting.

Devane Baldridge presented a petition signed by 183 people who opposed fluoridation, and addressed the council about concerns.

"Basically, outlying scientific information has come to me, concerning the risks of fluoridation," Baldridge said. "The EPA opposes fluoridation. The FDA does not approve it. It has been shown to cause bone cancer, and makes bones brittle. It affects reproduction, causes attention deficit disorders, and is injurious to health. Fluoride is toxic."

Baldridge read the warning label from a tube of tooth paste, which stated "Warning, Keep out of the reach of children under six years of age. If more than used for brushing is accidentally swallowed, get medical help or contact a Poison Control Center right away."

Councilman Steve Suber spoke for Kima Stewart, BIC West Elementary Principal, who was unable to attend, due to conflicts with another meeting. Suber handed out a fluoridation fact sheet.

"This fact sheet contains scientific data that fluoridation contributes to children's health," Suber said. "Fluorine is a naturally occurring element, When administered at low levels of concentration, has been proven to help prevent tooth decay.

"Kima said that if anyone wanted to see the need for something to help prevent tooth decay, they should just come to the school and look at children's teeth," Suber said. "The use of fluoride is no new thing, it has been used successfully since 1945 . The American Dental Association, the American Medical Association, the U.S. Public Health Service, all endorse fluoridation.

"The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has not recognized a casual link between low-level fluoride exposure and occurrences of cancer, brain damage or osteoporosis," Suber said. "The teachers at BIC sent a statement saying they were for fluoridation."

"I have no health concerns about the fluoridation of our water" Monette Mayor David Fletcher said. "It will only cost us about $1 per person, per year, to put fluoride in the water, so it is very cost efficient and I think it will help so many people"

"I have talked with our city engineer, Wayne Menley, and he said we have room for the fluorine equipment and can do it cost efficiently," Suber said. "We only need a 3x3 foot area. The same safety precautions that we use for mixing chlorine are used for fluoride. With training there should be no problem."

Dr. Lynn Douglas Mouden and Rhonda Sledge, with the Office of Oral Health, were in attendance at the meeting.

"Not one single fluoridation poison incident has ever been reported," Dr. Mouden said. "Talk to people from Memphis or Little Rock as they have had fluoridation since 1952. These people should know if it is safe or not, and they approve of it. I don't know where you (Mr. Baldridge) got some of your information, but it is incorrect."

Suber moved to begin fluoridation of the city's water. Earl Read seconded the motion. Tom Carroll and Ernestine Harrell both voted against fluoridation. Councilman Byron Sparkman abstained from voting. After restating the motion, Read withdrew his second, saying he understood that Suber planned to table the issue and that he was against it.

"There is a lot of misinformation running around," Suber said. "We are not guinea pigs, as this has been around since 1945. This comes back to the fact that the water department folks think this is something that is going to hurt people. We can train our people and oversee the safety of it. It is evident, that David and Jerry are not confident here."

"I won't be here," David Moore, water superintendent, said. "I'll move out of Monette."

Moore left the council room, but came back later.

"Ninety percent of the people in Monette do not want this," Bill Fleetwood said.

Suber restated his motion to fluoridate Monette's water, and it died for lack of a second. The move for fluoridation failed.

"These city workers were involved in killing this from the start," Fletcher said. "This just allows for the process to start all over again. The council has not had enough time to see all the facts on fluoridation. We need an even campaign.'

The council voted to put in an eye wash and shower for water and sewer employees to use for safety purposes.

Other business included:

*CPA Tim Short presented the results of the 2003 Water and Sewer Department audit.

"Revenue expenses were up because revenues were up," Short said. "The operating expenses are excellent, and have never been this good. You have a good staff doing a very good job, which makes a good audit."

Short commended the work done by the internal oversight committee.

Short recommended that the city conduct a single audit for 2004, which is a requirement to non-profit and governmental recipients that expend $500,000 or more in a year of federal awards.

*The council voted to offer Wallace Fowler of Liberty Bank $5,000 for the property on the corner of Highway 139 and Highway 18, for use as an improved intersection.

*The council voted to get information of a city-wide recycling program. Plans are to apply for grants in January.

*The city approved plans to reapply for a $15,000 matching grant from the Arkansas Department of Rural Service. Councilman Harrell gave a park update and report. The new 8 foot rock climber will soon be installed at the city park.

*The city agreed to purchase a certificate of deposit for $25,000 for Water and Sewer to hold in reserve.

*Sparkman announced that the Buffalo Island Yard Sale will be held on Saturday, Oct. 2. Monette city park space will be made available for rent for $10, on a first come-first serve basis.

The next regularly scheduled council meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Oct. 25 at city hall.

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