Thursday, October 03, 2013
In mid-July, SWEPCO’s attorneys and consultants and the APSC judge and staff looked on as hundreds of you stood up, one by one, alone before them. They watched as you cried and listened as you spoke in emotion-choked voices. Some of these visitors have made plans that will mutilate these Ozark Mountains, break your hearts, and destroy your way of life.
You poured out your hearts, telling them about the many things, large and small, that are precious to you. You spoke about what you love and value. You did your best to convey the depth of your commitment to the Ozarks and your way of life here.
Some say the judge wiped tears from her eyes at times. Later many of you learned that SWEPCO’s lead attorney complained to the same judge at the hearing in Little Rock that you had called his clients “greedy, idiotic, incompetent, unethical, immoral, rapists, even monkeys” and that his clients feared “being shouted down or assaulted.” It seems that you moved the judge’s heart. You offended SWEPCO’s attorney. You caught SWEPCO’s attention and rocked them back on their heels. The last week of August, a number of you drove to Little Rock and spent the week there, staying in hotels or at the homes of friends and supporters. You watched Mick Harrison extract information, with surgical precision and laser-like focus, from each of the witnesses for SWEPCO and its allies. Mick questioned some witnesses for as many as six hours. You watched as Jeff Danos stepped forward and, with a disarming air of humility and grace, drew more information from those same witnesses. Every day of the hearing, some of you called, emailed and texted those who couldn’t get to Little Rock, sharing the news and photos of the day.
That same week, it seems that every one of you who is an artist, craftsperson, business owner, or had something of value to donate – a painting, a print, a weaving, pottery, a piece of jewelry, custom clothing, a massage, a meal, a hotel room, music, etc. – donated it to support Save the Ozarks’ effort to stop SWEPCO. On Sept. 15, hundreds of you came to Caribé to watch your friends, acquaintances and visitors bid on items you donated, and do some bidding and buying of your own.
By the end of this week, all items that had been donated and auctioned were picked up and paid for. The money, including two large matching funds, was counted. When all is said and done, you who live here in the heart of the Ozarks, people who mostly have incomes that are best described as modest, did it! Every one of you who had anything to offer, be that time, art, food, money or enthusiasm, pitched in, and you raised $64,079.90 to stop SWEPCO.
In many ways, you’ve already won. You won when you answered the “$64,000 Question.” In SWEPCO vs. the Ozarks, you’ve made it clear that you’re in it to win it. It is an honor and a privilege to stand beside you, working together to save the Ozarks.
Pat Costner, Director Save the Ozarks
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