Commission suspends action on any bingo-related issues

The Wesson Gap Bridge, which had been closed as unsafe for years, collapsed into the creek during the recent high winds.The Wesson Gap Bridge, which had been closed as unsafe for years, collapsed into the creek during the recent high winds.

 By Donna Thornton/News Editor

    The Etowah County Co-mmission voted at a recent meeting to put a moratorium on any requests related to electronic bingo until the state or the courts resolve questions about the legality of the activity.
    Etowah County Chief Executive Officer Patrick Sims said the measure passed would stay any and all actions regarding electronic bingo.
    If someone asks for information about bingo in Etowah County, he said, the county can tell them bingo issues are off the table until the matter is resolved at a higher level.
    The county commission also voted to contract with Coast 2 Coast to supply a prescription drug discount card at local pharmacies which may bring some savings to Etowah County residents who do not have drug coverage, and may provide more savings than other prescription cards on some medications.
    Members of the commission also heard from a Lookout Mountain res-ident concerned about discussion of a proposed wind farm at the top of the mountain.
    A Texas-based company, Pioneer Green, spoke to commissioners a few weeks ago about their plan to put wind turbines along the mountain ridge.
    Tim Campbell referred to a number of studies he’s found that contend wind turbines kill birds and bats, created low frequency noise, and lower property values near the turbines. From his research, he said, he’s found studies that say there is no proven savings on power costs in areas with wind turbines and no proof that it lessens dependence on fossil fuels.
    Wind farms, he said, are heavily subsidized by tax dollars.
    Campbell said he has a vested interest – that he loves the mountain and has taken a number of youth groups hiking and rock climbing there.
    “It’s something we have that, if we take it away, we’ll never get it back,” Campbell said, of Lookout Mountain.
    He urged commissioners to get all the facts about wind turbines before any are built in Etowah County.
    The proposed wind farm would be located on along a ridge about seven miles north of Gadsden.
    Pioneer Green plans an informational meeting at 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Saturday, April 13 at the Etowah County Courthouse to let the public know more about the proposed project. Another meeting is planned later the same day in Cherokee County.
    In the commission’s work session March 26, storm damage continued to be a topic of discussion.
    Gadsden-Etowah County Emergency Management Agency Director Mike Bryant said he did not think the county would meet the threshold for any sort of disaster declaration, despite the widespread dam-ge from straight-line winds in much of the county and from an EF1 tornado in the Smith’s Institute Community in nor-thern Etowah County.
    Etowah County Engineer Tim Graves said he expected county crews to continue working to clear storm debris for the next two weeks.
    Graves said the county does not have policies in place to allow collecting debris unless it falls on the rights of way.
    Graves also mentioned the Wesson Gap Bridge, which collapsed into Little Wills Creek during the storm. He said it has caused no travel issues, because the bridge had been closed as unsafe for years.
    However, the bridge is hindering water flow in the creek so that the level above the fallen bridge is about two feet higher than it is below it.
    Graves said there is someone interested in getting the bridge out for scrap metal.

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