Wednesday, September 28, 2005

"You don't eat an elephant all at once. You do it one bite at a time."

Anti-corridor rally unanimous in opinion


By Dave Lewis
Managing Editor
Navasota Examiner

Chanting "1-2-3-4 We Don't Want The Corridor," nearly 150 people turned out for a late-afternoon rally Sept. 20 in Anderson to unanimously oppose the proposed Trans-Texas Corridor through Grimes County.

Betty Darby of Bedias was among those vocal about reasons she doesn't want the multi-billion dollar thoroughfare here.

"I see dope pushers coming in, people coming in of all criminal types. I see welfare leeches coming in and I am highly, highly against it," she said as people began to gather at the steps of the county courthouse.

According to a poll now running in The Navasota Examiner online edition, Darby is in the majority. Respondents to the poll are 77.1 percent against it. Only 15.1 percent like the idea and 7.8 percent say they don't care.

Darby has lived in Bedias since 1962 and formerly owned the water system in that community. "I live in the suburbs," she chuckled, "I am not in the city of Bedias."

Martha Estes has been keeping track of the corridor's history, and within a month after the Corridor Watch website was established by Linda and David Stall in Fayette County, she's not missed a move.

The first red flags she saw came out of HB 3588, which created the I-69 TransTexas Corridor and she didn't like anything she read about it, "because of the expansion of eminent domain and I didn't see any need that justified the kind of actions they were talking about," she said. "I absolutely think that they are crossing a line in the sand here in Texas when they are willing to forget that we have a free enterprise country and begin to be developers as a state. I mean developers of property and using eminent domain to secure the land to begin to do that type of development."

As for the economic impact of such a corridor, Estes sees darkness at the end of the tunnel.

"I've read about the nationalization of our roadway systems. When NAFTA came through there were factories that closed and jobs that migrated to Mexico. A hefty portion of those jobs have already migrated out of Mexico to China. I think we could have our state ripped asunder in a nanosecond - in time. We could find it was no longer serving the global corporate interest and we would be left with the aftermath from which we would never recover."

Gwen Patterson came up with the idea for the rally, and when asked who organized the event said,"Unfortunately it's me. Nothing I intended to get involved in in a leadership area but people kept saying, 'Gwen what are we going to do?' and I happened to have a group already organized and from there it has grown with interested people."

She hoped that about 200 would show up, and she didn't miss it much.

Two county commissioners, Pam Finke and Julian Melchor, spoke briefly, as did a half dozen more, including Linda Stall, who helped launch Corridor Watch on the web. She and husband David began with two affiliates and that number has grown to almost 150 now that public hearings on the corridor have been held.

"I don't see any positives," said Finke. "I can only find negatives at this point in time. If there is a positive, I'm willing to look for it and look at it, but right now I have not found one and I've done a lot of research on it. The only people who have are not in Grimes County. They're from large counties that have a lot industrial base and they could use this to bring in more revenue to their areas. These are people like Brazos County, Harris County, Williamson County - bigger places like that."

Dist. 13 State Rep. Lois Kolkhorst also addressed the crowd, noting that to tackle defeating a project as large as the corridor head-on would be doomed. To be defeated, the project would need to be rendered unmanageable by incrementally preventing its construction through other legislation.

Or, as Linda Stall said, "You don't eat an elephant all at once. You do it one bite at a time."

Both Stall and Kolkhorst urged rally-goers to write their elected officials and their local newspaper and to be vigilant on developments involving the corridor.

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