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billion gallons of water yearly to .1.2 million Panhandle residents. It supplies water to surrounding states and stretches from South Dakota to Texas. Irrigation for Hansford County’s important wheat and sorghum crops comes from the Ogallala, and so does water for cattle, also vital to the local economy. Agriculture in the county brings in $110 million annually. The people living in Hansford County lead conservative lives rich in tradition and devotion to family. Many are related to Norwegian settlers who came to the area in the early 1900s and began recruiting other Norwegians from the Midwest, advertising inexpensive land in Norwegian language publications across the country. You can see their names in the old cemetery between a wheatfield and the. Oslo Lutheran Church. Bergit Olsen is there. Olaf Snartemo. Jensine Dahl. And infants who didn’t survive the hardships of these Texas High Plains. Many of the children living in Hansford County today are the fourth generation to follow the Norwegian settlers, and people’s ties to property and to each other are strong. They attend the Lutheran Church, hold ice-cream socials, and throw birthday parties for all their neighbors. When a new baby is born into the community, they bring food for weeks. They help each other out And they are politically conservative. “If someone around here doesn’t vote,” one CAPP member said, “we go and get them.” In the last presidential election, only one person in their precinct voted for Walter Mondale. Everyone wonders who it was. They say it must have been a joke. But the people here were not likely to sit by while ANR threatened to spoil the land and water. Local farmer Joe Venneman described the battle against ANR as a display of respect to previous generations and a gesture of affection to future ones. Stavlo is one of the old names in Hansford County. Barbara Stavlo, a farmer and mother of two young children, became particularly indignant when she heard of the ANR dump plan and with other worried residents formed a group to fight it. They called themselves Citizens Against Poisonous Polother people in the region. It caught on. Elementary school children conducted a letter-writing campaign to newspapers, and resolutions against the dump were passed by the Texhoma Rotary Club, various churches and farmers unions, the Hansford Soil and Water District, local service 20 OCTOBER 10, 1986 CAPP sororities, chambers of commerce, schools districts, city councils, the ‘Palo Duro River . Authority ,, and the Mi. and Mrs. Garden Club of nearby Guyinon, Oklahoma. The North Plains Water District banned toxic waste storage in its seven-county district, an unprecedented and legally untested move designed to stall. the ANR’s licensing process. . “We just aren’t used to standing up and insulting people coming to our county.” Texas Commissioner of Agriculture Jim Hightower issued a statement blasting the ANR proposal. “Every year,” he said, “Texas loses another 120,000 acres of prime farm and ranchland to pipelines, powerlines, toxic dumps, highways, and urban encroachment .. . just the perception of toxic contamination leads to lower crop prices and land values.” Sen. Lloyd Bentsen wrote letters to the EPA regarding the dump, as did state Rep. Foster Whaley. U.S. Rep. Albert Bustamante wrote the EPA too, but indicated that the dump permit should be denied only if the PCB contamination levels exceeded the so-called “safe” level of 500 parts per million. In a similar tone, Texas Parks and Wildlife Executive Director Charles Travis said his staff would work to “ensure that fish and wildlife receive adequate protection if the company’s permit application is approved.” CAPP’s position ,was that any level of PCB was unsafe and that nothing could ensure the protection of fish, wildlife, or people. Melyn Johnson, Barbara Stavlo, Lynn Stedje. The group hired environmental lawyer Stuart Henry and began raising money to pay for legal fees and publicity. A barn dance brought in $1,700. County commissioners donated $750, a second-grade class sent $20, and a farm implement company gave $150. Other small businesses chipped in, too; so did individuals. Banks in the area agreed to pick up remaining debts. During the peak of the struggle, one bank’s electric sign flashed “NO WASTE DUMP” over Gruver’s’ main street. CAPP made more than 40 presentations to civic groups, schools, and churches. None of the CAPP members had scientific training, and no one thought of herself or himself as an environmentalist. THEN THE PEOPLE in Hansford County originally i f i f found out about the PCB dump, they didn’t know what to do. They thought of the protestors at the nearby Pantex nuclear warhead assembly plant and couldn’t see themselves that way. They didn’t want to wave signs and banners, lie in front of trucks, scale fences. They didn’t want to break the law. And as it turns out, they didn’t have to. Their persistence was more than ANR wanted to take on, and the gasoline pumping and pipeline company decided to transfer its chemicals to an existing dump in Utah, one already licensed to receive PCBs. But what if ANR had decided to keep the dump in Hansford County? CAPP member and County Clerk Amelia Johnson says there’s no telling what people would have done if ANR had gone ahead with the dump plans. Pho to by Dana Loy