This isn’t an article about a dysfunctional family. Today, I attended my first Regional Industrial Facility Authority meeting.
The Register & Bee’s John Crane wrote an excellent article about the meeting, so I’ll refer you to that for the play-by-play. I just want to touch on two experiences I had during the meeting.
First, let’s look at the suggestion of a name for the industrial park. Given, they didn’t hire a big-name advertising firm to arrive at the first suggestion, but I firmly believe that a second-grade class could have came up with something more catchy than this…
Even Danville Economic Development director Jeremy Stratton doesn’t look very pleased with the largest industrial park in Virginia being named “MA”. Drawing board. Get back to it.
Second, I met some of the strongest anti-uranium mining supporters at the meeting and I was very surprised at their friendliness towards me despite my strong opinions against their cause. Although I completely disagree with their group’s tactics at times, I have a great deal of respect for Nancy Smith and George Stanhope for their resolve and belief of their cause. As Stanhope said to me after the meeting (paraphrased), “There’s nothing about this issue that stops us from being friendly to each other.” Truer words have never been spoken. Unfortunately, I can’t say the same for Anne Cockrell. While the RIFA board went into closed session, the majority of people went into one of the other conference rooms to relax during the downtime. After a few minutes of conversation, Cockrell turned to me and said “We’re going to have a meeting now, would you mind leaving?” My reply was “Not gonna happen.” Cockrell stared at me incredulously as if she didn’t believe that somebody in the media was going to defy her wishes. I stood my ground as she puffed up and said “Then we’re not going to speak.” Shortly after that, she glared at me, pulled a member of the Pittsylvania County Board of Supervisors out of the room and went to the lobby to continue her conversation.
Members of the anti-uranium group: Anne Cockrell’s type of bullying tactics make your group look bad. Cockrell’s behavior is similar to SCC leader Jack Dunavant, who is known for trying to exert his influence to make people do things his way. Based on my first impressions of Nancy Smith & George Stanhope, I feel that if the anti-uranium group adopted their demeanor, they’d get more people to listen to them.