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NEW ALERTS

 

Radio Tower Approved for Installation Near Entrance of Mineola Nature Preserve

Thank you to everyone who filed a Request for Environmental Review in the FCC's ASR System. You can view the application status here

A draft of the Environmental Assessment (EA) was uploaded on 8/4/22 triggering a 30-day response window. Find the EA here.

 

 

 

Here is the City's letter/information on the Radio Tower and Antennas needed:

Mineola Communications Antenna Information -- City of Mineola 
September 2021


There will be two DB224A antenna systems, one for police and one for fire. The antennas are 21’ long and will be mounted on the side of the tower because the FAA restricts the overall height to 281 feet. The tower is designed to accommodate three antenna systems, but at this time there will only be two. 


Although the city is getting the grant to install the tower, the grant is actually given to East Texas Council of Government (ETCOG).  They in turn reimburse the city for the cost of tower project.  ETCOG needs to approve anything other than public safety communications antenna that wants to go on the tower.  The city of Mineola cannot lease any space on the tower because it is a government grant.  


The tower will be a three-guyed tower as these are less expensive to construct. The radio equipment including the antenna systems will be included in the cost of the tower project.  At this time, a cost for the tower is unknown because bids have not been received.  The city is waiting on the state to approve the archeological study that was performed.  The city was awarded $256,000 for the grant and the city has added money in the upcoming budget to cover any additional cost. 


The tower is pre-engineered but the tower pad and the guy wire anchors will be designed based on soil conditions. Those designs will be provided by the contractor which will be determined after the bid opening.  The city is anticipating getting the state approval by the end of September.  The city will then entertain bids for the project (Awarded 12.20.21 for $286,453.04 to Inter-County Communications).


Yearly maintenance cost should be an average of $5,000. This would cover the cost of climbing the tower to change out lighting or repair damage from lightening hits.  Insurance would cover the cost lightening hits. 
A public hearing is not required because the property is not with in the contiguous city limits


Proposed location for Radio Tower:

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Letter to the Editor 08.19.22

Kudos to the Wood County Monitor

In the August 4, 2022 edition of the Wood County Monitor, I read with local pride that the Monitor had
received four awards from the Texas Press Association’s Better Newspaper Contest, congratulations!
The one award in particular that stood out the most for me was the first place award for Public Notices.
This award was exemplary because the competition was statewide, except for the large metro daily
papers.


Specifically, the Public Notice Award was given for the public notice of a concrete batch plant application
that was proposed to be built near the entrance to the Mineola Nature Preserve. Because of that
notice, a citizen’s protest of the location helped to cause the applicant to withdraw the application and
save the entrance to the Mineola Nature Preserve from an unsightly and quality of life impact scar.
Public notices are posted in “newspapers of record” within governmental jurisdictions. Any state
proceeding (such as the concrete batch plant application), tax notices, elections, estate settlements,
zoning and rezoning public hearings, and other notices are required by law to be published in the
“newspaper of record”. Newspapers publish these notices as a form of communication between
governmental agencies and citizens of the region.


So the next time you are reading through the Wood County Monitor, take a look at the public notices, a
disposal well application, tax notice, a will probate, or even a concrete batch plant application may be
listed. Unless we were to attend all the city/county public meetings, reading the Public Notices in our
local papers is the only communication we have of learning about what governmental agencies are or
are wanting to do. It should be our civic duty to stay informed and educated on what could impact us or
our quality of life (such as a 281’ antenna at the Mineola Nature Preserve). So I encourage us all to do
our civic duty and stay informed by reading the Public Notices section in the Monitor, then speak out if
something is concerning or beneficial.


Thank you Wood County Monitor for publishing these public notices and congratulations on your
awards!


Joe Moore, Mineola, TX

Recent press release from Texans for Responsible Aggregate Mining (TRAM)

on the Sunset Commission's review of the Texas Commission for Environmental Quality (TCEQ): 

AMID SPIRALING GROWTH, TEXANS RALLY FOR SAFER PRACTICES IN AGGREGATE MINING AND CONCRETE PRODUCTION

 

Austin, TX, May 24, 2022  –  More than 10 years since Texas Sunset Advisory Commission recommended “positive changes” at the Texas Commission for Environmental Quality (TCEQ), more Texans are speaking out on what they see as the agency’s continued sacrifice of quality for quantity in a rapidly growing industry that is literally leaving them in the dust.

 

With the Sunset Commission expected to release staff recommendations from its follow-up report next week, Texans for Responsible Aggregate Mining (TRAM) has requested the commission recommend the agency adopt a wide range of best management practices (BPMs) required in most other states. 

 

“The TCEQ’s primary purpose is to protect public health and natural resources from pollution. They have struggled for years to effectively carry out this mission. It is impacting people across the state, so all eyes are on the Sunset Advisory Commission to see what they will do to put the TCEQ on a better track” said Cliff Kaplan, Secretary of TRAM. “With regards to aggregates and concrete, Texas is unique because we have almost no regulations to protect our public health and natural resources and the TCEQ does not appear to be concerned with enforcing the minimal regulations that do exist. For example, last year, when a proposed concrete batch plant in Tarrant County was found not to have met the public health requirements of their permit application, the TCEQ immediately initiated and rushed through the process to remove those requirements so other concrete batch plants wouldn’t be subject to them. It is a clear indication that the TCEQ has, from the top of the agency, put industrial expansion ahead of public health and natural resource stewardship. The Sunset Commission has a responsibility to correct that.” 

 

Kaplan continues, “For starters, the Sunset Commission could direct the TCEQ to better protect public health by improving the Air Quality Standard Permits, or doing away with them entirely. These are essentially rubber-stamp permits and they do not account for the dangerous effects of multiple polluters piling up at the same place. In other words, the TCEQ grants each permit to pollute the air, without considering how much pollution there already is in that location. The results can be disastrous for people living in the area.” 

 

Other TRAM recommendations to the commission include:

  • Ensuring more predictability and transparency in TCEQ’s enforcement process, including a requirement for air quality monitoring wherever they issue a permit to pollute.

  • Requiring operators of quarries and gravel and sand mines to do reclamation. That is, to restore their mined properties to a safe and usable condition when they are done mining an area, just like they do in most other states. 

  • Setting standards for water recycling, as aggregates operations are major consumers of the state’s limited water resources, even though more water-friendly technologies and techniques are available.

Gunter, a small town outside of Sherman, has 11 permitted concrete batch plants. Each morning, two-ton gravel trucks barrel past schools and residences on roads never designed to handle the estimated 3,500 daily trips servicing the plants. 

 

“Our local air quality is severely compromised by the clusters of concrete plants in Gunter. Each plant is presumed to be following the standard air permit, but TCEQ isn’t considering how many potential polluters they’ve allowed at the same address in our town. The permits also do not account for all of the pollution coming from the endless stream of trucks traveling to and from the plants, passing in very close proximity to our schools.” said Deirdre Diamond, a Registered Respiratory Therapist with Gunter Clean Air, a member group of TRAM. “All of the pollution makes this community less safe, particularly for our children, elderly, and anyone suffering from chronic respiratory conditions.”

 

“The continuous threats to our air quality left us with no choice, but to hire a professional consultant who quantified the pollution emitted by multiple batch plants operating at the 873 Wall Street site,” she explains. “The numbers that resulted from this study were alarming and show that TCEQ is not concerned about or monitoring cumulative impact. Unfortunately, the TCEQ treats these plants like they are operating alone, when they clearly aren’t, resulting in significant risk to our community.”

 

Recently, a new batch plant submitted an application to start operations in close proximity to the other 11 plants. Gunter Clean Air requested that State Senator Drew Springer, who represents the district, submit a public hearing request on behalf of his constituents. He denied the request.

“At this time our office will not request a public meeting on this application,” his staff responded. “We will continue to work closely with the community to ensure Gunter continues to experience the pristine air and managed growth that the City has done such a good job of managing.”

 

An air quality dispersion modeling report conducted by Air Resources Specialists of Fort Collins, CO,  looked at five concrete batch plants located on contiguous and adjacent properties. “The modeling results indicated exceedances of the applicable National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for all pollutants (PM10, PM2.5 and NO2),” the report concluded. Gunter Clean Air has made multiple attempts to meet with the Senator to share this report, but his staff has ignored those requests as well.

 

Springer is on the Sunset Advisory Commission that helps oversee the TCEQ. He is up for re-election this fall, and his top two donors include the Texas Aggregates and Concrete Association and BP North America. One of the Sunset Commission’s recommendations for TCEQ in 2011 led to passage of House Bill 2694, which requires any TCEQ Commissioner running for elected office to resign from office before accepting campaign contributions, to avoid conflicts of interest. Gunter Clean Air points out that it would make sense to apply this same rule to the Sunset Advisory Commissioners, since they are responsible for overseeing the regulator agency. 

 

With more than 180 facilities, Harris County leads the state in concrete batch plants. As in Gunter, however, the cumulative impact of that much exposure, often in communities of color, is not considered by TCEQ. 

 

“In our region, these permits are invariably applied for in communities of color and working class neighborhoods due to lax zoning laws and historic discrimination from redlining,” says Anthony D’Souza, Policy and Research Coordinator for Air Alliance Houston. “In many cases, small-lot single family residences literally share a property line with these facilities.” 

 

TCEQ, he added, has “bare minimum” requirements for public hearing notifications, limited to posting signs at proposed sites and small-print notices in a local newspaper or public library. These inadequacies mean that the burden for knowing about new permits is largely placed onto residents. So oftentimes communities are completely unaware or by the time they realize it's too late to organize or engage meaningfully in the permitting process, due to the short, 30-day comment window.

 

From 2015-2020, TCEQ received more than 100 requests for concrete batch plant air emissions permits in Houston, according to the agency. Only two were denied.

Even once a permit is issued, the burden is on residents to monitor these facilities and to ensure they are compliant with what they’re permitted to do. 

 

Stonewalling

In most states, comprehensive regulations for aggregate production operations (APOs) have been adopted to address major conflicts between rapidly growing population centers and expanding APOs in their vicinity.

 

“We have this situation occurring now in numerous areas of Texas. Yet, APOs in Texas are not required to adopt best management practices and few do so voluntarily,” Kaplan said, adding thatTexas leads the nation in aggregate production. “Where population is growing fastest, like in Central Texas, so is the aggregate mining. We are seeing it in the Austin-Bastrop corridor of the Lower Colorado, in the Highland Lakes region, along I-35 and the Balcones Escarpment and in the Guadalupe River between Kerrville and Comfort. If the industry is going to expand near so many people and in so many places, it is natural to expect the TCEQ to gear up to ensure public health, safety and reasonable protections for natural resources like water, air and land, that our communities depend on. That’s why the Sunset Commission’s review of the agency is so timely. Texans need the Sunset Commission to help the TCEQ get more serious about this industry.”

 

A rider to last year’s approved budget bill directed TCEQ to define and publish a list of Best Management Practices (BMPs) for the industry which focus on dust, light and noise control as well as conducting aerial observation of APOs twice each year to ensure compliance with regulations. Reportedly, the TCEQ has not made progress on either of these provisions.

 

Stay informed by visiting www.TRAMTexas.org and following our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages for news updates.

 

###

 

About TRAM
The coalition, composed of member groups across the state, seeks to work with lawmakers, state agencies, and good-faith industry operators to create state standards for BMPs in the APO industry and to adopt those standards into law. Its 22  member organizations represent 40 counties where APOs have dramatically expanded to meet the region’s rapid growth. Stay informed by visiting www.TRAMTexas.org and following our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages for news updates. 

 
 

WAYS TO TAKE ACTION

SUBMIT THE FCC REQUEST FOR ENVIRONMENTAL REVIEW 


See the instructions above on how to submit this before June 12. 


SUBMIT YOUR LETTERS TO THE EDITOR 

Due by Noon on Mondays

Letters must be signed, accompanied with a telephone number for verification and be no more than 350 words long. One letter per writer per topic will be accepted.

The Monitor does not accept letters of endorsement for or against political candidates. Letters of a political nature will not be accepted for the last edition prior to the election as well.
 

Letters should not be personal attacks and must not be libelous. The newspaper has editorial discretion on publishing as well as editing letters.
 

Wood County Monitor - 

Submit letters to the editor to: editor@wood.cm and publisher@woodcountymonitor.com

 

ATTEND A CITY HALL MEETING

Thank the City of Mineola for their support and active role in our success. City Council Meetings are held at City Hall in the Council Chambers every fourth Monday of each month at 5:30 p.m. Get there 10 minutes early to fill out a request to speak. Then, you'll have three minutes to express your gratitude for their support, additional feedback and/or concerns for the future. Visit https://www.mineola.com/citycouncil for more information. 

Forest Trees

WHO WE ARE

We are a group of concerned citizens with the goal of informing citizens of Mineola and the surrounding communities about this pending threat to the Mineola Nature Preserve and Equestrian Park. The Mineola Nature Preserve is a world class facility that many in the surrounding communities enjoy with their families. It also provides 2,911 acres of natural habitat for area wildlife.

Preserve Mineola is also a member of Texans for Responsible Aggregate Mining (TRAM), a statewide coalition of member groups seeking to work with lawmakers, state agencies, and good-faith industry operators to create state standards for best management practices in the rapidly expanding Aggregate Production Operation (APO) industry, and adopt those standards into law. TRAM's goal is to create a healthier, safer and more desirable community for Texans as well as a more efficient APO industry that is aligned with the concerns of the communities in which they operate. 

Informational Gathering on 4/3
Informational Gathering on 4/3

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Informational Gathering on 4/3
Informational Gathering on 4/3

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Informational Gathering on 4/3
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Informational Gathering on 4/3

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PAST UPDATES

April, 2021

Thank you to everyone who submitted comments and took action to save the preserve! 

EAST TEXANS SUCCEED IN PROTECTING NATURE PRESERVE 

Grass roots citizens group, Preserve Mineola, was notified this evening that Representative Cole Hefner and Senator Bryan Hughes made the following announcement regarding the proposed concrete plant near the Mineola Nature Preserve:


“Each of us has spoken with owners of Bell Concrete and let them know about the community’s concerns with the location of the proposed concrete plant. As soon as the company owners learned about the objections, they immediately volunteered to withdraw the permit application and to begin looking for a better location for the plant.


"Starting this process over will cost Bell Concrete additional money, but they are willing to do this in response to the residents’ concerns. The owners of Bell Concrete have a long history as great neighbors and corporate citizens, and we look forward to working alongside them as they expand operations to the Mineola area.
 

"We are also indebted to Alderman Greg Hollen, County Judge Lucy Hebron and Mayor Kevin White for working with us on this important matter."


The nearly 3,000-acre Mineola Nature Preserve has served as a place of solitude to thousands of people who utilize this beautiful natural space for exercise, stress relief, outdoor education, organized sports, equestrian use, and memory-making with friends and family. In an effort to preserve this vitally important land, the group, Preserve Mineola worked with local citizens, city and county officials to find a more responsible location for the concrete company, Bell Concrete, Inc., who had requested an air quality permit to place a (24/7) concrete batch plant directly across the street from the Preserve and The Derby Equestrian Campground. 


“A concrete batch plant in this location would have been detrimental to all life for miles, even more so because of its proximity to the Sabine River,” said Joe Moore – member of Preserve Mineola. “The well-being and quality of life for the community, along with the ecosystem of the wildlife and plants native to the nature preserve would have been tremendously compromised if this permit had been approved,” added Moore. 


“We are thankful that Bell Concrete, Inc. has made the responsible decision to work with the community on this matter,” stated Mary Williams, member of Preserve Mineola. “We are beyond grateful for everyone – the citizens, city, county, and state officials – who came together as a true community to protect this wonderful preserve,” continued Williams.

 

IN THE NEWS

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Donate

Thank you to everyone who donated, citizens who made their voices heard, and the State, County and City officials who took action during our engagement with Bell Concrete!

 

As we continue working protect the Mineola Nature Preserve and the broader Quality of Life for Wood County citizens, your donations help to support that process by helping us get the word out through this site, social media, and our grassroots efforts to stay connected with city officials, conduct research, and keep a pulse on activities in Wood County. 

Thank you again for your generous support!