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Day defends hog operation

After weeks of receiving criticism, Elizabeth farmer Larry Day publicly defended his plan for a 4,000-head confined feeding swine operation along S.R. 11 west of Pumping Station Road near Elizabeth. He answered many of the issues brought up at a commissioners’ meeting last month as well as urged Harrison County commissioners Monday morning to respect the job farmers do for the world’s food supply.
Day is proposing a second site for a concentrated animal feeding operation, which would effectively double the total operation.
‘It’s been said this doesn’t benefit anyone. I pay $4,000 in taxes, thousands to Harrison County REMC; I use Farm Bureau Insurance, Regions Bank; I have 8,000 gallons of LP from Jackson-Jennings (Co-op). When we built my barn, IMI was really happy because we used their concrete. We use Miller Trucking and Longbottom-Hardsaw and some boys from up at Palmyra dug the trench,’ Day said, noting that he tries to use local businesses as much as he can.
He said that his operation has been inspected by IDEM, which determined he was in compliance.
‘It’s been said the barn is unfit for pigs and compared to a concentration camp. I’ve been to a concentration camp when I was in the service, and this is nothing like it. We’ve had no reports of runny noses or itchy eyes. I kind of wonder if maybe it was something else and maybe they should have gone to the doctor if that was the case,’ Day said. ‘It’s been said that if we lose power from REMC and our generator fails, that the pigs die in minutes. That’s not true.’
Day said there are several hundred feet of curtains held with magnets that would automatically trip to open in case of a power failure, bringing fresh air to the pigs. He said it’s no different than if the air conditioning failed in a home how a person would feel.
‘They’re just not as comfortable,’ he said.
Day said in four years he’s not had a manure spill, but, if there ever was a spill, he has a contingency plan in place, which would be to stop the source of the spill, contain the spill, notify authorities, then clean up the spill.
Day said 11 of 14 houses within a quarter-mile around his current operation are to the east and he’s not received any complaints even though the prevailing wind is from the west or southwest. Later he said that one complaint was filed with IDEM that too much manure was being injected into too little ground. IDEM investigated the complaint and found that the injection was in compliance.
Day said antibiotics are only injected when needed, saying he didn’t want sick pigs.
‘I see the people who are complaining about this eating chicken on Memorial Day, then two days later they have their hands in the meat counter. Something’s not right,’ Day said. ‘Where do they think that meat comes from?’
‘We’re a farming community. We’re losing that because people need a place to live. We have golf courses, we have subdivisions and we have farming,’ Commissioner James Goldman said. ‘I think we have a good mix that we try to take into account. We try to be fair to everyone.’
‘We need to try to be consistent with what’s going on around us,’ Commissioner Jim Klinstiver said.
‘I think it’s a good idea to get information from surrounding counties. This subject regarding hog houses is uncharted for the planning commission,’ Commissioner Carl (Buck) Mathes said.
The commissioners then agreed to ask the Harrison County Plan Commission to look into laws from similar Indiana counties to help draft an ordinance for pig and chicken operations.
Later in the meeting, one Elizabeth resident and a neighbor of Day’s said he was OK with the first swine operation; however, he believes the second could potentially hurt his property value.
‘I don’t have an issue with the first one,’ Dan Jacobs said. ‘It’s the second one.’
Bill Watts spoke on behalf of the county’s parks board and said that there’s a misconception that the parks department is against Day’s plan.
‘The parks department is in no way against the Days doing something on their farm,’ Watts said. ‘They’ve worked around our schedule, and we couldn’t ask for more cooperation from them.’
He said the Days wouldn’t inject manure when there are events going on at South Harrison Park, which is near the proposed site.
In other matters Monday, the commissioners forwarded a $96,500 request to the county council from Glen Bube and the Harrison County Highway Department for repairs, parts and upkeep of county trucks and tractors.
Bube said newer equipment has updated technology and sensors that are more costly to fix, and that the budget hasn’t provided for such repairs. ‘We trust that you’ll adopt a repair budget in 2012,’ Goldman said.
The commissioners forwarded a request for $10,000 for the highway department to pay the rest of the liability insurance bill.
County health coordinator Tony Combs also had a request for $1,350 for liability insurance costs and $1,000 for office supplies.
The commissioners also sent a request for $24,500 to replace a computer and software that manages the HVAC system in the Harrison County Court House. The old computer was having network issues, but a Cybertech technician who took the computer to be repaired said it crashed while he was working on it and it was damaged beyond repair. Maintenance director David Simon said the technician has not returned the computer despite repeated requests for it.
Simon also received backing from the commissioners for a $5,000 request for janitorial supplies for the new Government Center. The supplies should last the rest of the year, Simon said.
The commissioners heard a brief presentation from United Consulting regarding the condition of Harrison County’s bridges. Chris Pope, UC representative, said the bridges were in very good shape and that the county has done a good job with upkeep.
A request from Joe LaPlant, chief of the Elizabeth Volunteer Fire Department, was also forwarded by the commissioners. The request of $5,164.95 was for radio equipment for a pumper truck. The radios were not included in the original bid.
The commissioners, at the request of the county council, also learned they could help save the county about $121,000 by paying off the jail bond early. A payoff of $1.49 million made by July 15 would save about $40,000 in interest as well as two $788,000 payments. An initial savings would be $81,000, with the total being about $121,000.