Rawls wants county review of Wacker

By BRIAN GRAVES Staff Writer
Posted 9/19/17

Bradley County Commissioner Dan Rawls wants an ad hoc committee to work on the issues which have recently surrounded the Wacker Polysilicon North America plant near Charleston.

However, that …

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Rawls wants county review of Wacker

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Bradley County Commissioner Dan Rawls wants an ad hoc committee to work on the issues which have recently surrounded the Wacker Polysilicon North America plant near Charleston.

However, that is something that may take a back seat to the state, federal and independent investigations which are now ongoing.

“There seems to have been some change with the situation at Wacker,” Rawls said. “I have had multiple calls on this.”

Rawls said he was “alarmed the story has changed multiple times.”

“I understand a lot about transparency and I think there seems to be an issue here,” he said. “The concept of transparency from a German company and an American company is drastically different.”

He proposed an ad hoc committee “to meet and come to an understanding.”

“We need a ‘coming together’ on what transparency means and how those statements need to be given to the community.”

“I think a lot of us don’t understand that Germany is a socialist country and that appears to have carried this over into the business attitude of this company,” Rawls said.

The Federal Republic of Germany, known as West Germany, became a representative democracy on Sept. 20, 1949.

After the breakup of the Communist block and East and West Germany unified, free elections were held in the east on March 18, 1990, and formal reunification as a representative democracy happened on Oct. 3 of that same year.

Rawls continued, saying Wacker needs to be “setting out ‘This is what we use,’ ‘This is what we do,’ and ‘This is the plan we have in cases of problems.’”

“That was never sent out to the community and I think it’s time that was done,” he said.

Commissioner Howard Thompson asked if the incidents at Wacker were under investigation.

County Mayor D. Gary Davis confirmed OSHA is on the case as well as state agencies and an independent company “who is trying to determine what the cause of the explosion was.”

“Shouldn’t we leave that alone until these investigations are over?” Thompson asked. “Do we have any authority at all except to gripe about it?”

There was no reply.

Davis said there have been meetings with Wacker officials “and we will probably meet again.”

“We are encouraging more communications, but right now they are trying to get some answers so they can communicate those answers,” Davis said. “I know the community is asking for these things and we’re hearing them and passing them on. But, until they have some answers I don’t know how much they are going to move on it.”

Commission Chairman Louie Alford suggested the item be discussed during the commission’s work session next Monday night.

“Maybe by then, they will have some kind of better understanding as to what exactly is going on and what went wrong,” Alford said.

“Conspiracy theories sell newspapers,” commented Commissioner Charlotte Peak.

Commissioner Milan Blake reported the HCI Committee has awarded the following grants from the $56,000 which was available:

• Bradley County Parks and Recreation, $18,260 for a two-court pickleball facility at the Urbane Road park.

• HOPE Center, $18,820 to replace 37 windows and six doors.

• Cleveland Civitan Club, $15,000 for construction of a new restroom facility and two new shelters at the park near George R. Stuart Elementary.

• Boys & Girls Clubs, $3,920 for the construction of a muti-purpose court.

The request from the Cleveland Emergency Shelter was denied because it was for programs instead of a capital projet as prescribed by the terms of the HCI grant process.

In other business, commissioners voted to:

• Allow the county mayor to negotiate an agreement with the National Joint Powers Alliance and authorize departments to use the alliance as an avenue to purchase supplies and equipment.

The request came from the county road department due to certain equipment not being available locally nor within the state of Tennessee.

• Authorize the purchase of 15 computer tablets from Wrightcore for $11,538. The tablets will be used by the commission as part of an initiative to reduce paper.

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