Saturday, May 10, 2008

"Perry is part of greed and corruption of the highest order."

Anti-corridor rally timed for graduation day

May 10, 2008

The Nacodoches Daily Sentinel
Copyright 2008

While Gov. Rick Perry was in Johnson Coliseum addressing SFA graduates, on the other side of campus a group of citizens were not so happy about his appearance in Nacogdoches.

In the free-speech area of campus, near North Street and Vista Drive, many farmers, property owners and concerned citizens gathered for a Citizens Against the Trans-Texas Corridor Rally.

Holding protest signs and using a tractor as a symbol of the farming community, those who gathered wanted to make their cause heard by the governor, as well as the community. Many vehicles traveling on North Street honked in support of the anti-TTC cause.

Libby community resident Larry Shelton said it's important to keep the opposition alive.

"It's a bad idea for Texas and a bad idea for Texans," Shelton said to a crowd of supporters. "Gov. Perry thinks the TTC is the solution to the state's traffic problems, but the TTC is a problem itself, not a solution."

In fact, many whose property could be affected by the multi-lane mega structure turned out to hold signs and echo the cause.

Kathy Brittain held a "Come and Take It" flag symbolic of one used during the Texas Revolution in 1835. She said it signified their fight with the government, and that they would not freely give up their land — it will have to be taken with a fight.

Brittain said her family's land is located near the proposed TTC footprint, and if her land isn't taken, she is concerned about the pollution and noise issues the corridor might bring.

Steve Chism wasn't as subtle with his message. He referred to the TTC toll road issue as "taxation without representation."

"I believe Perry is part of greed and corruption of the highest order," Chism said.

The group Independent Texans shared the same sentiments at a table set up with a petition calling for Perry's impeachment.

Most people at the Citizens Against the Trans-Texas Corridor Rally said they take the situation personally because their land is at stake. But Tommye Tracy said the issue hits home for her because her loved one's eternal rest depends on it.

"My husband and son are buried in Libby Cemetery on FM 1878 — right in the path of the corridor," she said. "I don't know what they plan on doing with that if they decide to build the road."

Those who do own land in the shadow of the corridor are just as uncertain.

Shelton said he and others are "uncertain of the future" and are unsure of even managing their land.

"How are we to know if we should even perform any long-term management or plant any trees if it's not going to matter in years to come?" Shelton said. "If the state continues to take land for reservoirs for the cities and our land for the TTC there won't be anymore rural land or a rural lifestyle."

Roger Mills' 200 acres, which has been in his family since 1875, is at stake, he said. To show the impact the road will have on farmers, he brought his tractor to the rally, which had an anti-TTC sign in the bucket.

"I want to draw awareness that this not only affects the landowners, but the farmers," Mills said. "With the price of food going up, people are going to need to rely on local farms more.

"I've been to several meetings, and it's overwhelming the number of folks against (the TTC)," he added. "I don't know why they are so insistent on building it."

Nolan Alders spoke to the crowd of upset landowners, but said he was mostly there to listen. Alders was appointed to the state I 69/TTC advisory board recently to give input on the project.

"I came here to listen to you," he said to the people.

Alders said he recently attended a meeting in Austin where Texas Department of Transportation officials detailed their plans on the roadway.

"I asked them 'If you have these plans already, then why did you invite me here?'" Alders said. "I want to be fair, but I want us to have a voice too."

Although Perry was in town for graduation, he did not attend the rally.

© 2008 Nacodoches Daily Sentinel:

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