Hixson board hunkers down against clean-water activist

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Hixson Utility Board manager Greg Butler addresses members Jeff Davis and Rebecca Hunter and, at right, clean water booster Heath Marter, who is forbidden to speak. (Photo David Tulis)

Hixson Utility Board manager Greg Butler addresses members Jeff Davis and Rebecca Hunter and, at right, clean water booster Heath Marter, who is forbidden to speak. (Photo David Tulis)

Despite pleas from a pure water activist, a public board in Hixson is turning a deaf ear to warnings about a product it admits is industrial waste.

Board member Ken Rich is asked Friday why the board is putting the acid in the water when not required to under law. “Because of the benefits of it — the dental benefits.”

By David Tulis / Noogaradio 92.7 FM 95.3 FM HD4

Putting on his jacket and turning to go out of the room, Mr. Rich says hydrofluorocilicic acid “is something that is actually approved and requested by dentists.” Is that support strong? He answers in the affirmative.

Pursuing his demand for clean water is Heath Marter, 30, a musician and father of two sons.

“I came down here to HUD to ask GM Greg Butler and the board members some questions regarding hydrofluorosilicic acid,” he says, “and they basically denied my request to ask questions to them.

“It definitely concerns me that they’re adding an arsenic-laced chemical waste to my water. And even more disturbing is that they refuse to answer questions about it.”

Mr. Butler indicates that Mr. Marter should solicit details through an open records request.

“There are thousands of studies that show fluoride is bad for humans,” Mr. Marter insists. “The hydrofluorocilicic acid batch [report] they gave me a month ago says there is arsenic in it, aluminum, lead, mercury. These are my concerns. It’s bad for people. There’s nothing about fluoride that’s good.”

The district’s 4 p.m. meeting lasts 5 minute, and covers a vehicle purchase. 

When the meeting is over, the two members of the public step outside. A reporter follows them, thinking that a board members he wishes to question has left the building. But Rebecca Hunter hasn’t. When he turned around to go back in, a staffer has locked the door. Board members are inside the building together for another 20 minutes before emerging.

It’s not clear whether they are meeting in compliance with the state’s sunshine act. No announcement of going into executive session had been announced in the open meetings act at TCA 8-44-1, and usually such secret convenings must focus on limit topics such as employees.

Mrs. Hunter is the most notable member of the board, being Gov. Bill Haslam’s commissioner of human resources overseeing the state’s 43,000 employees (government is the state’s largest employer). A second Hixon Utility board member is also on the state payroll: Jeff Davis is an attorney for the Department of Human Services and has a Hixson law office. Mr. Rich is the third member, and about him little is known.

Prior to the meeting, Mr. Butler insists that fluoride not be discussed. Mr. Marter does when the meeting adjourns, but Mr. Butler walks out without answering. Mr. Davis would not comment afterward in the parking lot, and Mr. Rich would make no further remark.

Heath Marter talks with Noogaradio’s David Tulis after a Hixson Utiltity District board meeting in which members refuse to consider ending its fluoridation program. (Courtesy Noogaradio)

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