Tag Archives: Christopher Teaf

VLCIA Payments for 6 Dec 2010 biomass “Forum”

VLCIA spent more than $17,000 on speakers and catering for their 6 Dec 2010 “Forum”, according to VLCIA’s response to an open records request. Yet local speakers against the biomass plant who would have charged nothing were not invited to be on the panel. VLCIA insists on referring to it as an “information exchange”, even though their hand-picked moderator said “we’re not going to get into debate.”

Here is a summary of the expenses: Continue reading

Why “jobs, jobs, jobs” isn’t good enough for the public good and the general welfare –John S. Quarterman

Sure, everyone wants jobs for the people right now and jobs so the children don’t have to go somewhere else to find one. But what good is that if those jobs suck up all the water those children need to drink?

This is the problem:

“What I believe the three most important things are, not only for our community, and our state, and our country, but for our country, thats jobs number 1, jobs number 2, and jobs.”

Brad Lofton, Executive Director, Valdosta-Lowndes County Industrial Authority (VLCIA),
speaking at the Lake Park Chamber of Commerce annual dinner,
Lake Park, Lowndes County, Georgia, 28 January 2011.
Video by Gretchen Quarterman for LAKE, the Lowndes Area Knowledge Exchange.

I shook Brad Lofton’s hand after that speech and told him I liked it, because I did: in general it was a positive speech about real accomplishments. I’ve also pointed out I had a few nits with that speech. This one is more than a nit. This one is basic philosophy and policy.

Now one would expect an executive director of an industrial authority to be all about jobs. And that would be OK, if Continue reading

VLCIA biomass website

VLCIA catches up with LAKE in posting videos of 6 Dec 2010 biomass event. But where’s the VLCIA FAQ website?

Update 24 Jan 2011 7:13 PM: Bruce J. Bendl found the FAQ.

In this video, Brad Lofton tells the VLCIA board that staff have put a lot of time and effort into building a website to answer frequently asked questions about biomass, including videos from the 6 Dec 2010 event. When I congratulated Lofton on this and asked the board for an answer to one of those qeustions, I didn’t think to ask for a URL for this new website, figuring it would be announced on the main VLCIA website. If it’s there, I don’t see it. However, VLCIA has sprouted a YouTube channel in which the long-awaited professional videos from the 6 Dec 2010 event have appeared, six weeks after the event.

Video of VLCIA 18 Jan 2010 board meeting
by John S. Quarterman for LAKE, the Lowndes Area Knowledge Exchange

More on that below. Meanwhile, LAKE’s videos of the entire event have been on YouTube since a few days after the event. Continue reading

VLCIA on expansion of existing industry

Local industry for local jobs: feedback loops? At the 21 Dec 2010 board meeting, Brad Lofton and the VLCIA board talk about exanding local industry, namely PCA and AlphaProTech. Lofton says AlphaProTech will add 50 new jobs. Hm, 50 is more than 25 slated for the biomass plant. And nobody even has to trade AlphaProTech land for them to produce these jobs!

According to their website, AlphaProTech sells:

“protective apparel, infection control and extended care products in addition to a line of construction weatherization building products for the housing market.”
Hm, so if VLCIA promoted refitting local houses it would also be promoting AlphaProTech.

It’s interesting to hear Gary Minchew say regarding one company:

“we just don’t need to be the front man”

Video by John S. Quarterman for LAKE, the Lowndes Area Knowledge Exchange.

Interesting that VLCIA is not willing to be the front man for local industry (as we’ve also seen in this response from Col. Ricketts), when VLCIA clearly is the front man for Sterling Energy and Wiregrass Power LLC, neither of which are from around here.


“I have to trust you people” –Ken Garren, former exec. dir., VLCIA, 18 Jan 2011

Former VLCIA Executive Director decides based on rants in the VDT to come say “I trust in you” and “If it turns out to be wrong, then we live with that.”

Ken Garren (Brad Lofton’s predecessor as executive director) speaks in support of the current VLCIA and the biomass plant, 18 Jan 2011.

“I made a decision that although I’m concerned about a lot of things, and I’m concerned about anything….

I have to trust those people who are in those positions will do their homework and make the right decision. Then I will live with that. If it turns out to be wrong, then we live with that.

What bothered me was when I started reading in the paper about the veiled threats. The personal issues. …

When I started reading about veiled threats. When I started reading about people being chastised because they didn’t accept a brochure or some literature. You know, that bothered me.

Then when I read one of the rants about it; they wondered how you folks were chosen. If you don’t know how these people are chosen…. They ought to do their basic homework.

But I’m here tonight to say that: I’ve looked at it; I’ve researched it; I don’t always agree with all the things the authority does… but I trust in you….”

Update 2014-03-31: VDT wrote 3 March 2014 that Garren joined VLCIA after Sterling Chemical came in.

Then he praises Sterling Chemical which came in on his watch, and while Norman Bennett (currently on the VLCIA) was Chairman of the County Commission. See for yourself:

In the current fashion he begins by saying when he first moved here (1965). Is that what’s required these days to be worth listening to? Continue reading

“We’re industrial development” –Mary Gooding

After some some other things, I asked the VLCIA board (18 Jan 2011) about my previously submitted questions about house refitting for insulation and efficiency, and about rooftop solar, such as have been successful in Austin and Houston, Texas.

Mary Gooding answered:

“That really would be the city… we’re industrial development.”

She didn’t say which city. There is more than one city in the county. The question as sent to them in writing refered to Hahira; maybe that’s the city she meant. Should Hahira not expect any help from VLCIA?

And what about us who don’t live in any of the cities? So far, all the new solar rooftop installations are in unincorporated parts of the county, although both are in Hahira’s 31632 ZIP code.

Col. Ricketts, at the direction of the board, has since sent me a response, which will lead off tomorrow morning.

VLCIA seemed somewhat confused as to what their protocol is as to answering questions: Continue reading

Who is “we”? -jsq asks VLCIA

Did the VLCIA board just back off from its staff’s very close association with Wiregrass Power LLC’s biomass plant?

After pointing out that LAKE posted videos of the entire previous VLCIA board meeting as a proof of concept that if it could be done by a tiny volunteer activist group it could be done by a tax-funded professional staff, and complimenting VLCIA on finally posting videos of their 6 Dec 2010 event a month after LAKE posted videos of the Q&A and the rest of that meeting, I asked the VLCIA board who is going to buy the electricity from the biomass plant. Chairman Jerry Jennett answered:

“That’s not our problem.” [waves hands] “You see, industry comes and it’s his job to sell whatever his output is… the manufacturing plant… the output is electricity…”

So I asked how does that match with Col. Ricketts in the previous board meeting referring to a public/private partnership between VLCIA and Wiregrass Power LLC and frequently saying “we”.

Col. Ricketts responded that he was only referring to the solar plant and the GEFA grant. Well, yes he said that then, but he also said… Continue reading

In refusing debate, VLCIA staff are following orders from their board

We’ve seen Brad Lofton write I will not debate you over e-mail and We will not, however, debate you over e-mail meanwhile refusing to put tax-funded presentations and videos up for public view through the VLCIA website, and offering personal meetings instead. Having experienced one of those personal meetings down at VLCIA HQ, and having heard from others who have attended them, I know of no substantive debate that happened at those indoctrination sessions, either. Any attempt at debate or even to get Lofton to produce the scientific evidence he claims he has ends with a proclamation like this one from September:
We’re moving forward with permits in hand.
or this one from December:
We’re moving forward now, and we are looking forward to the ground breaking which will be Spring of 2011.

But let’s not be too hard on VLCIA staff. At the 21 Dec 2010 board meeting, it became clear Continue reading

‘Mr. Lofton has no proof whatsoever that biomass is “safe”.’ –Dr. Noll

Since Brad Lofton has once again wrapped himself in a self-imposed cloak of silence, Dr. Noll gets the last word, including two attachments, which you can find here. -jsq
Date: Thu, 30 Dec 2010 03:10:58 +0000

Good evening everyone.

It is obvious by now that Mr. Lofton has no proof whatsoever that biomass is “safe”. He does not have one statement by a medical organization, not one scholarly publication he can share with us that backs up his claim. (Coincidentally, the same is true for other claims, as the event on January 13 will show.)

Members of WACE (and others in the community) have tried to receive proof

Continue reading

Brad Lofton’s memory fails him again

On 28 Dec 2010 Brad Lofton wrote:
No one but WACE has made any claims about our efforts to substantiate this project.
Who are all these people, then, asking questions at the VLCIA’s 6 Dec 2010 event?

For example, this one, following up about the Environmental Impact Study he requested back at the EPD air quality hearing (see video of that event). He didn’t get an answer then, and at VLCIA’s 6 Dec event he still only got allusions to studies and standards that were not produced.

You can see Brad Lofton in that video, listening. Did he forget so quickly?

What about SAVE’s event at VSU at which Dr. Sammons spoke? What about the well-attended Biomass Town Hall that Pastor Angela Manning organized? And other events.

What about my question at the 6 Dec 2010 VLCIA board meeting? Continue reading