Posted: Dec 3, 2012 8:00 PM by KXLF Media Center
People who attended a health department public meeting felt their comments may not be recorded.
On Monday, the Butte-Silver Bow Health Department held a public meeting at the Maroon Activities Center. The health department was seeking more public input on their health studies plan before submitting the final draft to the Environmental Protection Agency in February.
Tables were situated around the lobby of the MAC Center. The health department organized the event so the public could visit different stations they were interested in and speak with a specialist. The stations included air quality, water quality, cancer incidents, contaminants of concern, and the residential metals abatement program.
Prior to the meeting, Terri Hocking, health officer for Butte-Silver Bow, encouraged the public to come voice their concerns and ask questions.
"It isn't the health department's plan necessarily, it's the communities'," Hocking said. "We want to make sure that we are including the activities that the community is particularly concerned with."
Three hours into the event nearly 30 people had signed in. People who attended said others may have been discouraged from attending because of the style of the meeting. Several people expressed they were concerned that traveling between stations their comments may not be recorded.
"I think it's usually a device that's used by an agency when they want to give the appearance of public involvement and the appearance that they are listening to people, but they are not really," said John Ray, professor of public policy at Montana Tech.
"Any comments that we are getting from the public are being written down," Hocking said. "At our next meeting we will go through them all. We will look at incorporating them into the plan. That's the whole purpose of having these meetings is to make sure that if you have particular concerns, or if you disagree with some portion of the plan, that we are aware of it and we can look at that again."
The final plan will be submitted to the EPA on Feb. 28. To view the plan and submit comments visit www.buttectec.org.