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Jonesborough fluoride issue on hold for now, mayor says

Jessica Fuller • Sep 25, 2016 at 4:36 PM

Two months after a split public hearing, the issue of whether to keep fluoride in Jonesborough’s water supply has been missing from the Board of Mayor and Aldermen’s agenda.

Mayor Kelly Wolfe said residents shouldn’t expect a vote before the holidays — scheduling conflicts with aldermen’s vacations are keeping officials from focusing on the issue at hand.

“At this point, we have considered it to be a December or January type issue,” Wolfe said.

The Board of Mayor and Aldermen first debated the issue five months ago at its April meeting. The initial discussion didn’t yield any decisions, but aldermen expressed opinions on the safety and cost-effectiveness of continuing fluoridation of the town’s water supply.

“I researched this, and from what I read there’s absolutely no benefit now in having that in drinking water,” Alderman David Sell said at April’s meeting. “Actually, it’s kind of dangerous almost, and it’s costly.”

A tour of Jonesborough’s water plant showed town officials where fluoride spillage has eaten away at the concrete floor over the years. Plant director Jonathan Lucas said in May that he doesn’t like dealing with the chemical in such high concentration because it is so corrosive, but the fluoride that makes it to the kitchen sink is diluted to about .27 parts per million.

That still poses some threat to community members, as the town’s public hearing on the matter in July revealed. Out of the 18 community members who signed up to speak, 10 were in favor of pulling fluoride from the town’s water supply and eight, many of whom were health care professionals and dentists, were in favor of continued fluoridation. 

With public opinion largely split on the issue, Wolfe says he is aware there is no solution that will make everyone happy.

“Like most things in life there's two sides to every issue and our goal is going to be very deliberative, not have a knee-jerk reaction and try to do things as we see a priority to our water customers,” he said.

Wolfe said the town will notify the public when the issue is to be back on track for discussion.

Email Jessica Fuller at [email protected]. Follow Jessica on Twitter @fullerjf91. Like her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/jfullerJCP.

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