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Photos by Wendy Watriss/Fred Baldwin. By Wendy Watriss Anderson “It’s not just our fight. What’s happening here affects everybody in the state. It’s the future of our land and what we say we believe in as Americans.” -Wayne Baker, president, Grimes County Taxpayers Association “The people down there in Grimes County-the ranchers, the taxpayersthey’re good people. But they’re living in the past.” -Jerry Follis, public relations director, Texas Municipal Power Agency A few months ago, Paul Cunningham, executive director of a new, billiondollar public power agency, was a man with a mission. At his headquarters in the industrial suburb of Arlington, he spoke proudly of the Texas Municipal Power Agency and its future. Two hundred miles away, bulldozers were preparing the site of a new lignite-fueled power plant in the ranchlands of East Texas. “There are nearly 250,000 people who will be needing power,” said Cunningham. “That’s our responsibility. We are in the vanguard of public power. People from all over the country are watching us. We’re part of the mainstream. And Grimes County? It is one of the eddies.” But Grimes County has also been the springboard for a fight that has kept Cunningham and his power agency in court for the past year struggling for their survival. The fight has been bitter, and it has raised serious questions about the direction of public power in Texas. This June, it cost Cunningham his job. The conflict began two years ago when Grimes County residents learned that THE TEXAS OBSERVER 3