Citizens for Safe Water, a not-for-profit group organized June 20 to stop the plan to add fluoride to the Pine Island drinking water, dropped off more than 750 petitions at the Greater Pine Island Water Association Wednesday afternoon.
Jack Mills, a member of Citizens for Safe Water, said they presented two petition signings to GPIWA.
"There are over 750 of each, which represents more than the 10 percent of voting members required," he said.
The first petition that was handed in stated "in accordance with the by-laws of the Greater Pine Island Water Association, Inc. the undersigned voting members petition the Greater Pine Island Water Association, Inc. board of directors to schedule a special meeting and to prepare ballots to be sent to the voting members. The purpose of the special meeting of the voting members shall be to vote upon the issue of halting or continuing the Greater Pine Island Water Association fluoridation project."
The second petition that was given to the GPIWA stated "addition, removal, or alteration of substances into, or from the water supply that are intended for processing and sanitation of water shall be exempt from this article. Nutrients and other substances that are deemed beneficial to public health may be added to, or removed from the Greater Pine Island Water Association, Inc. water supply system by a majority vote of the voting membership in a regular or special meeting of the association unless specifically mandated or prohibited by law or regulatory agency."
It further states that "the board of directors shall not be authorized to add, remove, or alter the level of nutrients and other substances to or from the water upon their discretion without the passage of a majority vote of the voting membership in a regular or special meeting, except upon the immediate need or cause of public safety. If the board of directors add, remove, or alter the level of nutrients or other substances for the purpose of immediate public safety concern, they must notify the members of such action and schedule a meeting not later than 30 days from the action for the purpose of calling a vote of the membership for the majority approval or disapproval of the action. Such actions that are disapproved by a majority vote of the membership shall be reversed, and the water shall be restored to its previous condition."
Renee Clark, office manager for GPIWA, said it would take about a week for her to process the petitions. She said she has to read the names and verify each address against the membership list. If the names are not found, she can go one step further and go to the original water agreement.
William Thacher, GPIWA general manager, said when Clark goes through the petitions she has to certify that they are members and make sure there are no duplicates. He said a total of 584 signatures are needed.
If there are enough petitions signed, the petition language will be placed on the next annual ballot.
Thacher said the ballot will be sent out at the end of January, about 30 days before the February meeting, which will include a vote for new directors and a bylaw amendment or change. He said the vote tally will be announced at the annual meeting, which is held on the fourth Tuesday of February.
The petition language, Thacher said, would either be rejected or added due to it being a majority vote.
"They have the right to petition and change the bylaws," Thacher said.
Fran Wolford, secretary of Citizens for Safe Water, said with the petitions dropped off to the water association, the organization's next step is to educate people about the bad effects fluoride has for families, children and pets.
"So many people are coming back from up north that don't know what's going on," she said.
In addition to the petitions being handed in, a group of about 20 people stood outside the GPIWA building with signs in their hands that read "No Fluoride in our Water" as the cars drove past on Pine Island Road.
Thacher said the citizens who stood outside the building had every right to do so.
"We support that as a staff," he said. "It's their right as a member."
No action, Thacher said, would be taken as long as the individuals stay within the guidelines of the bylaws.
In addition, the members of the organization also had literature they were passing out that stated three reasons to end water fluoridation.
"I think the turnout is wonderful," Wolford said. "I couldn't ask for any better corporation. I'm proud of everyone."
Paulette Crippen was one of the individuals with a sign in her hand.
"I think if they add the fluoride to the water, they are making the biggest mistake of their lives," she said.
Crippen returned to Pine Island from Michigan in October and became more involved. She said while she was in Michigan she made phone calls to encourage people to sign the petitions to stop fluoride being added to the water.