Sunday, June 29, 2008


July 4th, 2008
One voice is a solo, but many voices are a choir. If ever there was a need for a choir, now is time. This reminds me of a sentence I used to type in typing class in high school. Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of their country.
Apathy is a huge obstacle to overcome. It is really easy to say to oneself that I am only one voice and what I say doesn’t amount to a hill of beans; They are going to do what they are going to do and there is nothing I can do about it. If that is what you are thinking, then it is going to happen. It doesn’t make any difference if you are talking about Hyperion or life in general. If you take that attitude, you are beat before you have started, and you can’t let that happen.
With all the happenings going on in the Siouxland area right now, truer words were never spoken. Apathy is starting to set in and that is not a good idea. Many people are thinking that because the election on the Hyperion application is over, it is over. That is not true. The battle is still going on and this is not the time to be sitting wondering what to do next.
I’ll bet I haven’t seen 5 letters to the editor in any of the area papers about Hyperion. This is exactly what they are hoping for. It is like that old saying, out of sight, out of mind. They are hoping we will resign ourselves to the fact that since the election is over it is time to accept the inevitable. The refinery is coming. What a crock! I said when this ordeal first started that Hyperion has no intention of building a refinery in South Dakota, and I’m still convinced that is the case. However, I am only one voice. We need many, many voices screaming from the rafters saying that we are not going to let this happen. Hyperion still has many obstacles to overcome before this refinery becomes a reality. They have at least 2 or 3 years of hearings to go through. Hyperion has many applications that must be approved, and the fat lady hasn’t started singing yet.
I don’t know about you, but I am tired of governments, both state and local taking the stance and going with the idea that they can do whatever they want because we are not able to stop them. I think it is time to take government back and put it in the hands of the people. I know all the elected officials reading this are saying I’m talking through my hat, but I’m here to tell you, it is true. A perfect example is taking place right now in Union County.
There is a public hearing set for the 14th of July on the revisions to the zoning ordinance document. I know people are saying this will be the third time in two years that this is coming to a vote and quite frankly people are tired of the petition and election process. It is like time is standing still. The problem is that special interests are dictating what is happening with this ordinance. There are those of us who are trying to look out for the people of this county but our voice is being ignored. The only way change is going to take place is if we are persistent and demand change. Otherwise, they are going to do as they please and do not have our best interests at heart.
I’m here to tell you that if your voices are loud enough that government will listen and then acquiesce to what the people want. If you sit back and say nothing, it is like assuming that if you say nothing, nothing is wrong. They say that if you don’t vote you can’t complain. That holds true for changes in what your local government is doing. If you say nothing and don’t complain, they assume that what they are doing is okay.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

should the healing begin?

June 19th, 2008
Should the Healing Begin?
There was an article in the Leader Courier last week calling for the healing to begin. My question is how is this going to happen? Why should this happen now? Are the folks that won feeling a bit guilty? Do they feel sorry for us?
A company comes into this area buying up options on land and won’t say why. They swear the people who optioned their land to secrecy. When the word finally leaks out after they have obtained options on thousands of acres of land that it is going to be a refinery, the battle begins. Lives are disrupted; people who used to be friends are no longer speaking to each other. Very strong opinions on both sides believe their cause is just. A vote is taken and the county supporters of this monstrosity prevail, and the proponents of this endeavor are calling for a time to heal.
You’ve got to be kidding me! There may come a day when this will happen. I may forgive, but I will never forget the hell people were put through because there were people who said this is for the better good. It is a sad day when people’s greed, self indulgence and lack of feelings for their neighbors become the better good of Union County.
These folks that are saying it is time to heal are the same folks that accused us of holding the county back from economic progress. We were denying people jobs that were going to pay $20 - $30 per hour. These are the same folks that said we were stopping growth in the cities and towns in the Siouxland area. These are the same folks that claim unless we bring Hyperion into Union County this county will stagnate and our children won’t have decent paying jobs to look forward to. These are the same folks who reach out with their grubby little hands for the almighty dollar and could care less about those whose land and lives are in total chaos because of their actions.
Now they are calling for healing? What part of you have almost destroyed my life and my land don’t they understand? Maybe I am bitter about this whole thing, but I think after what we’ve been through we have a right to.
There is an old saying that majority rules, but at the same time one has to respect the rights of the minorities. Did they or do they respect our rights? I don’t think so.
This is not a done deal folks. We will fight them in the courts and we will prevail. Justice has its way of being heard. The lawsuit that was filed by Save Union County is still under advisement. Who knows, the judge might just come out and say that the claim is valid and we can proceed with our court case.
One of the things this election has brought to light is wondering if our elected officials are looking out for us. Is it possible they were influenced to vote the way they did by outside interests? How does ones district commissioner face their constituents and explain how they voted when during the election 70-80% of the people in their district voted in opposition? Has anyone asked their commissioner how he justified his voting on this issue? You might be surprised at the answer you get. I asked my commissioner. The answer I got is that he was really surprised at the vote.
Speaking of the vote, has anyone stopped to look at the overall picture of the voting pattern in this last election? I wasn’t surprised that the rural areas of the county voted against the application. I wasn’t surprised by the vote in Dakota Dunes. I was surprised at the vote in Beresford and Alcester. Do you wonder why they voted the way they did? When I was canvassing Beresford, the common denominator on why people voted yes was jobs and money.
Preston Phillips is on record as saying of the 1825 permanent jobs that will be available, 80% will be filled by people imported for those positions because we don’t have qualified people here to do their jobs and they don’t have the luxury of taking the time to train them. Do the math. So now we have everyone in a 100 mile radius competing for 365 jobs, not 1825. And for that you voted for this? I’m not making this up; I am quoting from the newspapers and the special research that was done just for Hyperion.
Economic growth is another factor. Hyperion will bring industry to the area. Yes it will, but not to the small towns. Why do you think Hyperion has options on over 12,000 acres? It isn’t just because the land is cheap it is because that is where the ancillary industries will be built. Do you think for a minute that Beresford or Alcester will be sites for these companies? It ain’t gonna happen folks.
I’ve done some research, and have come up with two possible companies that could be used as a general contractor for a project of this size. Coincidentally they are both located in Dallas, Texas. One is a company everyone has heard about because of situations in Iraq, Afghanistan and other countries in the mid east. The company is called Halliburton. They have been in the oil business a long time. The other company I’ve never heard of, but after doing research on them, they are the prime candidate. The company is called Fluor. You can read more about these companies by visiting their websites. and
We’ve said many times that Hyperion does not have the money, manpower, or the resources to do this job. How does it sound now? This is scary!

Friday, June 6, 2008

It Ain't Over Till It's Over

It Ain’t Over Till It’s Over!

As disappointing as the outcome of the election was on Tuesday, June 3rd, I would like to quote former baseball great Yogi Berra. “It ain’t over till it’s over.”
Those of us who have been against this refinery issue since it was revealed a year ago knew that there was a possibility we might not win this election. We also knew that when dealing with a company such as Hyperion we would be in for a tough fight. Our predictions are coming true.
There is an old saying that if you tell a lie long enough and often enough, it becomes true. Preston Phillips has been saying since the beginning that this refinery is bringing growth and economic development to this community and that is why we must let them in. Whenever we question him or his cronies about this, we never get a straight answer. If you look at all the news clips and all the news quotes, they always talk around this issue. They keep repeating what it will do but never say how they will do this.
There is one vital question that I have had an issue with since the beginning and this question has never been answered. Why have they not said they are coming to Union county? The day after the election, Corky Frank was quoted in the paper that there are still other sites under consideration. If this isn’t an affront to the people of Union County, nothing is. What Mr. Frank is actually saying is that they still don’t have the money, resources, and the manpower to build this thing.
They did get the first hurdle out of the way; they got us to vote in a zoning ordinance that is completely flawed and contrary to the comprehensive plan and the zoning ordinance. I won’t keep beating that subject to the ground, but this is the basis for the whole thing, and they completely circumvented the process.
I am not a sore loser, I just hate to lose. What I find hard to comprehend is that Hyperion completely ignored the system and convinced our public officials that they knew what they were doing. Our officials believed them; or something to that effect. It will be interesting to see what the circuit court has to say about the lawsuit.
I think the problem really is that Hyperion has been planning this for many years and we have been able to do nothing but react to every step they have taken in this process. They knew from the beginning what was going to happen, and things went exactly their way. Do you remember back a few articles when I was talking about this being a chess game? They have a strategy that is all based on what the ultimate goal is and this makes me think when the public hearings start on their permitting process that our laws are so weak that this will breeze through the process and it may actually become reality on paper.
I honestly don’t think we will ever see a refinery built here. Not only are there insurmountable obstacles with the permitting process, the biggest obstacle is bound to be financing. I have a hard time believing that a company with a net worth of $30-50 million dollars can finance a project that is $10-12 billion in today’s dollars. That seems so unreal that it makes me wonder what is really going on. I’ve said repeatedly throughout my articles that I love conspiracies, and I think this is a lulu. Do you suppose this could be a giant land grab? After all, Hyperion Resources is a real estate development company.
Don’t be surprised if many of the statements made by Hyperion during this campaign process don’t come to fruit. Preston Phillips is on record as claiming there will be 1825 permanent jobs. In the Stuffen report, Preston is quoted as saying there will be 1825 jobs however, 80% will be imported because we don’t have the skills and expertise to fill these positions.
This is not an isolated statement. Many inaccuracies have been pointed out and will be proven when it comes time for Hyperion to substantiate these claims, but for now, the important step was having the ordinance approved.
When I say it isn’t over till it’s over, think about what hurdle is coming next. In order to get the pipeline and the railroad to the proposed refinery site there is going to be a battle over eminent domain. The state will have no other option but to declare eminent domain because this pipeline/railroad has to go through the very area that is 80% against the refinery. If you ever thought people were mad before, wait until someone that is not even close to the site is forced to give up their land to let the pipeline/railroad through. Then we will have big problems.
The democratic process has once again been carried out. I applaud those that voted. Don’t ever feel bad because you lost. Be glad that you had the opportunity to vote. This is what it is all about.
Servicemen and women around the world will always say that they don’t always agree with what you say, but they will defend to the death your right to say it. This is still the land of the free and the home of the brave. And like I said in my first sentence, “It Ain’t Over Till It’s Over.”


Monday, June 2, 2008

With Baited Breath

June 4th 2008
With Baited Breath
The easy part in this campaign to stop Hyperion is done. Now comes the hard part – waiting. Waiting with baited breath. I know our cause was just and I know we were right. That means we will win. Positive thoughts bring positive action. I think I hear the fat lady warming up in the background.
The turn out at Spink on Saturday for our last rally was really successful. Several speakers addressed a crowd of between 350 and 400 energized folks on pointed issues regarding oil refineries and pollution. The bands were great. Ed Johnson & Michelle Martin, Fiddler Nelson, T. Wilson King, and Sling Shot. There was music for everybody. It was a great cause and effect presentation.
By the time everyone will be reading this, the outcome of the election will have been known for a little over 24 hours. I said from the very first day that we will win this, and I am always true to my word. We have good sense, good people, honesty and logic on our sides, so it is only natural that we should win. Everyone connected with this project put their hearts and souls into making this a reality come true. I couldn’t be prouder to have been associated with them. It makes my heart glad to know that there are still people in this world that care about their land and their environment. I consider it an honor and pleasure to be in their company. They are the most unselfish people I have ever met. You deserve a huge thank you from all of us.
I said in one of my earlier articles that God put me on this earth for a reason. He made arrangements for me to come to Union County and take care of 15 acres of his land. I don’t own it; God owns it and has selected me to take care of it for him. That makes me feel special. For him to think that I am good enough to be his caretaker is truly a humble calling. I’m not sure I can live up to his expectations, but I will try and am trying my best to do that for him.
I also think it was fate that I was in a position to help stop this refinery. This proposed refinery would have been bad for us and our area and this was a wake-up call that we need to stay close to each other and to be diligent to ensure this type of thing doesn’t happen again. As much as I enjoyed the excitement and the challenge, I think it is time to rest a bit. Even if it is only for one day. I’m sure I’m going to wake up Wednesday morning with more things on my mind that will need serious and immediate attention. In the meantime, I am going to just sit back and bask in the knowledge that we took on the big guys, and we won.
Hyperion came in here and thought we were pushovers. They thought this refinery deal was going to be a slam dunk. Well, we showed our heritage when you talked about taking our land and turning it into slop. You woke us from a deep peaceful sleep and we responded with force and perseverance to stop them in their tracks.
This issue will convince the rest of the oil companies that refineries in South Dakota are not going to happen and they need to leave us alone.
I’m going to change the name of this column if Dodie will let me continue to write for the Hometowner. I’m going to call it “Old Cranky Says.” I’m never at a loss for words, and I always have an opinion about something, whether it be good or bad. Hopefully I can keep you entertained and informed at the same time. There are still some things that need to be said about this refinery issue. This vote on the 3rd was just round one. This issue might drag on for many years, and I intend to be there to ensure that they do not stick a spade in the ground to begin construction.
I will have comments for it next week. I am all hyperioned out and thankfully so. This has been one hell of a ride folks.

Old Cranky (Doug)