History in the making

On Saturday, September 1, 2007 the Washington County Fair opened its doors with a parade. In the past marching in the parade was open to all citizens of the Ohio valley. The parade represented a way of life. Children’s happy faces, adults having fun, an atmosphere which allowed for the freedom of expression. This is no longer true.

Several weeks ago I contacted the fair board, and asked permission for our group to walk in the parade. I explained who we were, and what we were trying to accomplish. We were asking Eramet to be a good neighbor, and to clean up the air which we are breathing. I was assured that we did not need permission, and to meet at the Food 4 Less parking lot where we could take our place in line.

After much planning, and expense we were informed by phone at 10:00pm, the night before the parade, by a fair board member that we were not allowed to walk in the parade. The fair board had voted to black ball our group since the message we were sending was making Eramet uncomfortable. Why would a simple message asking Eramet to clean up our air make them uncomfortable? I leave that up to the good people of this valley to draw their own conclusions.

We are not a protest group, never have been a protest group, and never will be a protest group. We were informing the good citizens in our valley about the air they and their children are breathing, and who is causing the problem. We were distributing educational materials at a community gathering for all our residents, and in a free society.

NEIGHBORS FOR CLEAN AIR has the distinction of being the first group of local citizens and taxpayers ever to be denied the right to walk in a community parade on Labor Day. As American Citizens I feel perhaps that our rights have been trampled, and that the slanderous remarks made against our group by the fair board president warrants a written apology printed in our newspapers. When the fair board receives money from the commissioners for the fair, where do you suppose the money comes from? Could it be from taxes?

For those of you who do not know us we are your neighbors, and our only goal is to clean up the air making it possible for us to remain healthy so that we can enjoy the beauty of our valley. Members of our group walked the picket line when Eramet shut out their workers, and we had a food drive for the locked out workers when Eramet held out on them, and their funds where running low. That is who Eramet is, and this is who we are. This is not a covert operation. All we want to do is to deliver clean air that is free of pollutants. To do that it is necessary to identify the source. Clean air is a God given right. The Constitution guarantees us our other rights such as freedom of speech, freedom of expression , and even the right to walk in a Labor Day parade. The last time I checked we were still living in the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.


Florence Beidler
Member of Neighbors for Clean Air