Curtis unhappy with local agencies response to REEF issue

TALLADEGA COUNTY – Clara Curtis, of Sylacauga, had a few choice words for the Talladega County Commission’s handling of the REEF disaster that has affected thousands of Sylacauga residents, at Wednesday evening’s commission meeting.

Curtis expressed her disappointment in the commission and local government agencies for the neglect of the residents left in the aftermath of toxic fumes from REEF.

“Gentlemen, this is a very serious problem we have,” Curtis said. “This is our environment, this is what we breathe, this is what we drink.”

Curtis said residents have felt neglected from local agencies, including the commission, since REEF filed bankruptcy and skipped town, leaving local residents with a list of respiratory diseases and children with asthma from toxic fumes.

“People have died,” she said.

“I find it an extreme embarrassment that we have had to have the Federal Environmental Protection Agency get involved. It should have been handled locally.”

Curtis had numerous copies of letters written to the commission, the Talladega County Emergency Management Agency, and other local agencies, along with copies of The Daily Home where the REEF disaster was covered extensively.

Curtis claimed she and many residents have yet to receive a response from the many letters written to county officials, including TCEMA Director Deborah Gaither and the health department.

“When we elect officials to represent us, we become frustrated when we don’t get any help from them,” Curtis said.

“I have not come to ask you for anything, but to give you some information.”

Curtis said residents are requesting help from the district attorney to investigate the neglect and lack of assistance they have received from the commission and government agencies.

“Nelson Bates helped us in the beginning, but since his retirement we cannot get any assistance from the current director Deborah Gaither,” Curtis said.

“We ask the Talladega County Commission to take a better look at how taxpayer dollars are being spent, or better yet, wasted.”

Curtis warned the commission that there will be lawsuits filed in the very near future, and that several law firms have been in contact with her to get their hands on the many documents and correspondence she has kept for the last four years regarding REEF.

The commission also heard from Lloyd Johnson, a resident of Stoney Ridge Lane, who came to see why work had not been done to the road in the last few years.

“We’ve been out there since 1976 and the county’s always been good to us until the last two years about this road issue,” Johnson said.

Stoney Ridge Lane is located in District 2, Commissioner John Luker’s district.

Luker said that after talking to County Engineer Tim Markert, they discovered that there was a mapping error and that Stoney Ridge Lane was left off of the map.

Luker said the process has been long to get them back on the map and that he has received an affidavit from a current employee and is currently waiting on the affidavit from a former employee to the get the road back on the map.

“I apologize for that, but by our next meeting (Nov. 27) we’ll have it back on there and added to our maintenance map,” Luker said.

In other business, the commission:

• Approved the reappointment of Georgia Christian to the Cheaha Mental Health Board.

• Approved a request from the TCEMA to apply for a Rockefeller Foundation/FEMA grant.

• Approved a request from TCEMA to enter into a Mutual Aid Plan with Alabama EMA.

• Approved an aerial photography task order under contract with G-Squared.

• Approved a bank resolution with First National Bank of Talladega.

• Approved a schedule of commission meeting dates.

• Approved budget amendments.

• Approved all conference and training requests.

• Approved all personnel changes

• Approved all expenditures at $961,128.

The next county commission meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. on Nov. 27.

The commission office will be closed for the Thanksgiving holiday on Nov. 22 and Nov. 23.

The request to relocate and vacate Shelvin Rock Road will be placed on the Nov. 27 commission meeting agenda.

District 3 Commissioner Kelvin Cunningham commended the poll workers and Talladega County Sheriff’s Department for their work on election day, Nov. 6.

Luker asked that everyone keep the family of Harry Reed Moore in their prayers. Moore died Nov. 9 and was the chief financial officer of First National Bank of Talladega.

Contact Aziza Jackson at

© 2012