Hickory board meets with Legislative representatives

The Hickory Underground Water Conservation District met in a special called meeting Monday morning. Sitting in on behalf of U.S. Cong. Mike Conaway, who had been expected at the meeting, was his Legislative Assistant Scott Graves. Also included in the meeting was Mandy Locker, regional director located at the Brownwood office. Graves said he had no prepared presentation, instead listened to a host of concerns the board had and expressed during the meeting. ‘At’ the head of the list were, of course, water issues and what the board perceived to be rules and regulations that had no way of being adaptable to small rural water entities. Graves said that the congressman was aware of the issues facing the smaller systems and was trying to find what problems other regions of the nation might be facing so that perhaps some relief could be afforded. ‘The congressman is on your side,” said Graves. “He understands how tough it is on small communities in dealing with entities like the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).’ Board member Bert Striegler told Graves that by requiring all systems to do filtering was overregulation on rural America. He said he felt it was trampling on the Constitution. Other members of the board were equally vocal. One expression of disdain was that up to 20 percent of filtered water to meet EPA standards was being lost to leaks and other uses such as watering or for livestock. That amount of loss they said was too expensive and asked that Conaway look into it. One other topic of discussion that emerged from questions was comprehensive immigration reform. The pair of Legislative staffers said that Conaway was in favor of regulating who crosses over the borders into this country. They said that Conaway asked that people look at the real impact of contributions to the economy by illegals. While he does support the idea of some fencing, some of it they said was totally preposterous in certain areas of the border. Conaway, they said, leans more toward clearing salt cedar for better visibility in certain areas While he still favors amending the law which says that babies born in the United States are automatically citizens, he realizes it would probably take a Supreme Court decision to amend the 14th Amendment to the Constitution. His suggestion is to have legal guest workers waive the automatic citizenship during their legal stay in the United States. Graves said that his area of expertise dealt with immigration, trade and agriculture so he could not respond directly to certain questions, but he compiled a list of items to take back so the congressman might study them. Following the meeting, the two were escorted to the museum by Striegler who gave them background information on the light tower building and led them on a nickel tour. ‘ The two also were shown the work being done on the foundation of the old guard shack once located at the POW Camp entrance. The shack will be rebuilt of existing materials that have been gathered from the old site after numerous auto accidents had demolished it to rubble. It will serve as one of two guard shacks that will be the entry ways to the tower from the museum. The other guard shack is one that served at Curtis Field. Striegler told the guests that more than 10,000 cadets trained to be pilots at Curtis Field, and that they all went in and out of the building at least twice a day. The building itself is in the process of being completely restored.

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