Cass County Citizens' Coalition Group: "County leaders are making deals behind our backs"

People in Cass County say they are at their wits end in the battle between county leaders and a zinc factory coming to the area. Now citizens are preparing to take action in a different manner.

Posted: Sep 18, 2020 5:47 AM
Updated: Sep 20, 2020 10:23 AM

CASS COUNTY, Ind. (WLFI)—The Cass County Citizens' Coalition group asked all 5,000 of its members to pack the house Friday morning. Their goal was to confront county leaders on a negotiation they say was done secretly.

The group said county leaders formed a "WSP incentive Resolution Committee" after the county ordered the group to negotiate with WSP.

The Coalition is claiming that before negotiations with WSP could end properly the county voted behind its back. On Wednesday morning through a unanimous vote the commission passed resolution 2020-12.

The coalition is also claiming the committee was created secretly to make recommendations to the redevelopment commission. Attorney John Schwarz representing the citizens said the county didn't give the group a proper amount of time to negotiate with WSP.

"I think there is this feeling that nothing has been done as far as what the coalition has done and that's not the case," said Schwarz. "We've done a lot. It's just that this is a lot. 18 days is not enough time to try and do all of this."

However WSP denies these claims. A representative for the company said the Cass County Citizens' Coalition Group was well aware of the negotiations. Below is a timeline WSP provided to News 18. It outlines what the company said took place. However, the Cass County Citizens' Coalition denies the timeline being factual. 


August 19 – RDC Meeting

• RDC holds monthly public meeting and set its next meeting for September 16, 2020 prior to adjournment

August 21 – County Council Meeting

• County Council votes to postpone its vote on the WSP bonds and sends them back to RDC for reconsideration, adding that CCCC should be included as a party to those discussions
• During discussion at the County Council meeting, Council President Mike Stajduhar states that the RDC will “send it back to us before the next meeting”
o You can view/hear that here, at time stamp 1:19:22
• Prior to adjourning, the Council set its next meeting for September 18th, therefore negotiations would need to be completed prior to the RDC’s 9/16 meeting to meet the deadline set forth by Mr. Stadjuhar

September 3 – In-Person Negotiations

• Present at the in-person meeting on September 3rd, were CCCC attorneys John Schwartz and Jim Brugh; CCCC leaders Malcom Jarrell, Susan Jarrell, Mercedes Brugh and Lora Redweik; Cass County Attorney Jeff Stanton and certain members of the County Council and RDC; and representatives from WSP

• On three occasions during this meeting, County officials reiterated to representatives of WSP and the CCCC that the RDC would vote on a revised agreement on September 16th

• WSP arrived at this meeting to negotiate in good faith and was prepared to discuss all potential areas of interest, including aspects on which WSP was willing to give in the spirit of compromise and community relations

• The CCCC’s only request during this meeting was for a trip to Millport, AL to tour the SDR facility, which WSP agreed to

• Despite the County’s statement that the RDC would consider a revised agreement on September 16th and the Council would consider it on September 18th, the CCCC requested that the tour take place on September 16th.

• WSP and CCCC agree to hold talks on environmental aspects of the project

September 4 – First Environmental Session

• CCCC representative Malcom Jarrell and WSP representatives Patricio Madero and Russell Kemp hold an hour-long conference call on environmental aspects of the project

September 8 – Second Environmental Session and First Attempt to Discuss Bonds

• CCCC representatives Malcom Jarrell and Dr. Arijit Pakrasi, and WSP representatives Patricio Madero and Russell Kemp hold an hour-long conference call on environmental aspects of the project

• A WSP attorney emails CCCC attorney John Schwartz requesting the name of someone to discuss bond and financial aspects of the project. No name provided.

September 9 – Second Attempt to Discuss Bonds

• A WSP attorney emails CCCC attorney John Schwartz requesting the name of someone to discuss bond and financial aspects of the project. No name provided.

September 10 – Third Attempt to Discuss Bonds; Unannounced Stringfellow Visit

• A WSP attorney emails CCCC attorney John Schwartz requesting the name of someone to discuss bond and financial aspects of the project. No name provided.

• CCCC member David Stringfellow travels to Millport, AL and shows up at SDR facility unannounced

• WSP provides offer of financial and economic concessions to County Attorney Lisa Lee

September 14 – Week of Votes; Letter from Malcom Jarrell

• Malcolm Jarrell writes a letter to members of the County Council on CCCC letterhead to provide an update on negotiations, which is the first time the CCCC formally put in writing any indication of potential requests or otherwise indicated their position on the environmental aspects of the project

• WSP finalizes and provides list of financial and economic concessions to County Negotiating Team (see below)

• While the CCCC chose not to engage on the bonds, the environmental concessions offered by WSP were wholly consistent with the items discussed between WSP and CCCC representatives Jarrell and Pakrasi – these were ultimately included in RDC Resolution 2020-12

September 15 – RDC Agenda Posted

• RDC agenda is posted to the Cass County website stating that it will consider Resolution 2020-12, “WSP Incentive Committee Recommendation”

September 16 – RDC Meeting

• RDC considers and unanimously passes Resolution 2020-12, “WSP Incentive Committee Recommendation”

WSP offered the following environmental concessions to the County Negotiating Team, which were informed by and wholly consistent with the items discussed between WSP and CCCC representatives Jarrell and Pakrasi – all of which were included in RDC Resolution 2020-12:

• Install Continuous Opacity Monitors (“COMs”) – WSP will place COMs on the two kiln product collector stacks and will incorporate this into the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (“IDEM”) air permit.

• Install Bag Leak Detection Systems (“BLDS”) – WSP will include a BLDS system on the 12 baghouses which have fans, stacks, and exhaust to the atmosphere. WSP also will incorporate this into the IDEM air permit.

• Install Ambient Lead Monitor off-site in the City of Logansport – WSP will agree to pay for an ambient air monitor for lead within the city limits of Logansport with sampling to occur in accordance with ambient NAAQS sampling protocols.

• Conduct initial stack test for mercury – WSP will conduct an initial stack test for mercury on each kiln product collector stack, the timing for which will be dependent on initial start-up and attaining normal course operations.

• Obtain Site Pollution Legal Liability Insurance - WSP will obtain Site Pollution Legal Liability coverage in accordance with such policies typical for similar types of industrial operation:

o Counsel to the County will review the proposed policy to insure that it covers bodily injury, property damage, environmental clean-up, etc.;
o Cass County would be an additional insured on the policy;
o A Certificate of Insurance would need to be provided to the County annually;
o Policy limits must be in line with commercially reasonable limits for similar policies; and
o To the extent the policy is not renewed or cancelled for any reason whatsoever, a form of “clawback” is put in place that is agreed upon by the County and WSP.

• Regular EHS Reporting - A WSP representative will report to the county on environment, health and safety performance on a quarterly basis at regularly scheduled meetings of the Cass County commissioners.

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