The Williams County Association moved to oppose the AquaBounty project after electing leadership during their annual banquet Thursday evening.
AquaBounty is an aquaculture company looking to build an indoor farm to raise 10,000 metric tons of genetically modified salmon a year in a facility in Pioneer. The project will withdraw a maximum of 5.25 million gallons a day (mgd) of water from the underground aquifer and discharge almost as much into the St. Joseph River.
At their annual banquet, and fourth quarterly meeting, the trustees passed a resolution recognizing and promoting the importance of the Michindoh Aquifer and opposing the withdrawal of water resources from the aquifer by AquaBounty, according to an email from Bob Short, Williams County Township Trustees Association president.
While this is the first move by the township association as a whole against AquaBounty, Madison Township Trustees Rodney Baker, Terry Huffman and Mark Schmucker had previously written a public forum letter to The Bryan Times to express their disapproval of the project.
They are not the only people to oppose the project, either, as the Williams County Alliance, a grassroots citizen group dedicated to conservation, has held public meetings and protests against the project. The Defiance County Commissioners also expressed their opposition to the project and a public comment period on state permits the company needs have also been overwhelmingly against it.
Also at the meeting, held at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Edgerton, the association elected officers for the upcoming year, according to Short’s email. Elected to office were: Bob Short, Millcreek Township, president; Mike Elser, Bridgewater Township, vice president; Deanne Batterson, Pulaski Township, secretary/treasurer; and Jeff Burkholder, Center Township, executive committeeman.
Also at the meeting, according to Short’s email:
Bryan High School’s Light Shines Singers provided the entertainment under the direction of Ben Lupo. Their performance included selections from the upcoming winter concert.
Keynote speaker of the evening was Chief Deputy State Fire Marshall Rick Stuter. He is the former fire chief of the Wauseon Fire Department, newly appointed to the chief deputy position by Gov. Mike DeWine. He was accompanied by Tom Bentley and Ron Miller of the Governor’s Task Force on rural firefighting. He reported on the activities of the task force which was organized by DeWine to address issues in rural fire departments such as staffing, retention and funding. Five of the county’s fire chiefs were in attendance and interacted with the speakers.
The Ohio Township Association was well represented with three officers from the organization: President Tim Lynch, Vice President Ed “The Bear” Huff and Secretary/Treasurer Ron Miller.
Following the keynote address, agency updates were given by County Prosecutor Katie Zartman, County Sheriff Tom Kochert, County Engineer Todd Roth and County Health Commissioner Jim Watkins.
Williams County Township Association’s next meeting will be at 7 p.m. on Feb. 16, 2023, at Center Township.
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