Air Quality Group Begins Quarterly Night Meetings
Contributed by: Ann Hinch on 12/8/2006

In an effort to attract more citizens to its monthly meetings, the Loudon County Air Quality Task Force will begin holding one quarterly meeting at night in 2007.

Formed in 2003, the task force meets to discuss regional air quality issues, with specific attention to factors contributing to pollution in Loudon County. It is comprised of 12 people representing local industries, state government, Loudon County commission and Loudon and Lenoir City councils.

The meetings have traditionally been held on Wednesday afternoons at the county courthouse annex in Loudon. Some citizens have been asking for times that would better allow people who work during the day to attend.

At the task force's Dec. 6 meeting, Vick Malichis, air pollution control field office manager for Tennessee Dept. of Environment and Conservation, suggested switching to at least some night meetings.

"The people I've met through (investigating) complaints are like, 'Yeah, I know about it, I just can't get to it,'" he said of afternoon gatherings.

Chairman Michael Crosby thought once a quarter in the calendar year might be good to begin, and allow the task force to include a short presentation on current concerns as part of its public education goals. John Easter, Loudon's representative, said if night meetings are only every three months, they might run long - he suggested every other meeting be at night.

Pat Hunter, president of Clean Air Friends/Clean Air Kids, attends nearly every month. She asked if evening meetings could be advertised ahead of time on the local community cable channel, and volunteered to record meetings to be aired afterward.

The task force voted to begin with one per quarter; if they are well-attended, it will add more nocturnal meetings. For its regular afternoon meetings, it is changing the time from 3 to 3:30 p.m., on the fourth Wednesday of every month (except in November and December).

Crosby said he will check with the county mayor's office on availability of meeting space, then report at the Jan. 24 meeting so the task force can decide when to hold its first 7 p.m. gathering.