Sorry Folks, the Park’s Closed…

So, this evening I attempted to attend the Duke Power Marshall Steam Station meeting that was a public forum to discuss the issue with Duke’s coal ash ponds. However, despite arriving at the Sherrills Ford Elementary School (site of the meeting) 10 minutes before the meeting was to start, there wasn’t a parking spot to be had…I mean anywhere. It was pure chaos outside with people parking on lawns, curbs, double parking cars in… you get the picture.

After a solid 30 minutes to complete one circle around the stuffed parking lot I crossed the road and headed down a small side road determined to find a parking spot & walk…no matter how far away I was from the school.

Man, I was thrilled to have found a spot about a quarter of a mile away, now 30 minutes after the start of the meeting, alongside this road, my vehicle’s passenger side tires precariously gripping an embankment about 18 inches lower than my driver’s side tires.

SUV secured & seemingly safe from rolling down the hillside, I set off for my little hike in the rain back towards the school. Look out Duke Power, here I come!

As I was making my way back up the road to the school I happened to notice several small groupings of folks making their own trek back towards the row of cars (each one of which was also seemingly defying the law of gravity as they too were parked sideways along the hill). That’s when two very frustrated 40-something women said to me “…they’re over capacity at the meeting, not letting anymore people in…”

WHAT?!?!?

Surely these nice ladies we just working on some grand April Fools joke two and a half months early???

I’d come this far, my frustration dial already turned up to an 11. I’ll be damned if I’m not going to get up there & find my way in to this thing (like I did one time at a Jimmy Buffet concert in the early 90’s, but I digress).

A few moments later, as I approached the entrance, I could see dozens (maybe more) equally frustrated folks all standing outside in the 40 degree drizzle. That’s when it hit me, this feeling of utter disappointment — like Clark W. Griswold when he finally got to Wally World and was greeted by an animatronic moose…”Sorry folks, the park is closed”.

Instead, I’m just rambling about the cold, the rain, the traffic & all the things that are out of my control.

On the dejected walk back to my car however, a new feeling was beginning to settle in with me — there were a ton of people (hundreds maybe thousands?) that weren’t turned away. People that, like me, are fed up by the utter disregard, and general ambivalence this giant company appears to have for the health & welfare of the people in our community.

My goal was to make it into that meeting tonight, listen to whatever PR pro line of BS they were going to share, and then come back here tonight and help spread the word of what went down in that WAY TOO SMALL venue.

Taking the fight to a giant environmental polluter is something that is in each and every one of our own individual control. You see, the point is that despite my personal disappointment about not being able to be in the room tonight, the thing that I can take away from the evening is that SO MANY of our neighbors, friends, co-workers etc. did engage, did show up and did manage to make it in that room.

If you ever felt like you might be a lonely voice crying out about the coal ash problem Duke has brought to our front door here around Lake Norman, what I can tell you is that you are not alone.

Please stay tuned, I’ll have much more actual information on this topic in the coming days, weeks, months (God willing, not years).

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