Mary Sue Whayne: Whayne, whose family has been in Hickman County for six generations, remembers the day she read about the plans for the landfill in The Paducah Sun. “I felt physically sick,” she says. The dump was to be located on the bluffs overlooking the Mississippi, near Columbus-Belmont State Park, a Civil War battlefield.
The front man for the proposed Hickman County mega-dump, John Horrell, showed up in the county and told residents he had come to “educate” them about all the good things the landfill would bring. “Sure,” says Whayne, “twenty thousand tons a day.”
Horrell’s comment “Really woke people up” and “made them mad,” Whayne says.
The community, with Mary Sue Whayne as a central leader, got together and formed the Coalition to Save the River Counties. As a result of the Coalition’s activism the county judge-executive passed a resolution against the landfill. This action changed Mary Sue Whayne’s life. Since the success of the Coalition, she helped form the Hickman County Local Government Project (LGP), which serves as a watchdog over local government and encourages citizen participation in government.
“I’ve made a lot of friends through this that have a lot in common as far as concern for the environment,” Whayne says. “And I found out there’s lots of groups out there working for the same cause. Until you get into it, you don’t realize that.”
Summarized from Robin Epstein. 1999. Citizen Power: Stories of America’s New Civic Spirit. Democracy Resource Center: Lexington, Kentucky. Used with permission.
Visit the Democracy Resource Center web page to learn more about grassroots movements in Kentucky, or to order a copy of Citizen Power: Stories of America’s New Civic Spirit.
Click here to get informations in german!