Staff writer Christine Tatum periodically travels the back roads of Rockingham County to ask folks what's on their minds. This week, she was in Eden.
After a public hearing on March 15, Eden City Council members may decide whether to allow chemical companies to set up shop in an Eden industrial park.
Some people shopping in Eden this week said they'd welcome chemical companies with open arms as long as they brought jobs and extra money to town.``We sure need the economic growth around here,' said Eden resident Allison Carter, 25. ``C'mon! This is Rockingham County. I'm all for it. I work in the textile industry now, and we have lots of rules and regulations that we have to follow. Any company that uses chemicals does. I realize that accidents can happen, but we have to take the good with the bad. A chemical company would bring jobs here.
``Besides, chemical is such a broad word. And chemicals are an every-day part of life. You've got to have them for cooking, heating, cleaning and gasoline for your car. We have to have chemicals for the textile industry. There are good chemicals out there, and I know there are bad ones, too. It's up to the council to think responsibly. We need chemicals, but I don't know about anything that glows in the dark. Hazardous waste and toxics are another matter.'
Ann Hanline, 29, of Eden said she knows first-hand the dangers of working with chemicals.
``I don't want to see any more chemical companies coming here,' Hanline said. ``I used to work in the chemical department of a textile mill here in town, and I had to quit. It hurt my skin and my eyes. It was those dyes. I worked there two years before I couldn't stand it anymore. I've seen the skin on people's hands just peel right off. No, I don't want to see anything else like that come here. It's not worth it.'
Many other people who stopped to chat agreed with Hanline.
``I think that industrial park is too close to a livable area for them to go putting a chemical company there,' said Robert Lee Talley Sr., 70, of Eden. ``It don't matter how careful you are because the possibility of an accident happening is always there. I just think the health and welfare of the people here is more at stake than the city's economy.'
Damon Hall, 29, of Eden wondered whether there really is any way to make sure that chemical companies won't harm the environment years from now.
``I just think that if they're going to do this, they'd better give it some serious thought and do a lot of research,' Hall said. ``Because we have no way of knowing if something that looks harmless today won't come back and hurt us all 20 years from now.'