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By Sterling McGinn

Gould City area residents filled the Newton Township Hall on Monday, November 8 to hear a presentation about the proposed quarry to be operated by the Carmeuse mining company. Many are concerned how the limestone mining will affect their daily lives, wildlife, endangered species and the area where they live.

Residents had questions to ask the Carmeuse employees who were present at the meeting. The employees provided a power-point presentation with maps and other details about the new quarry.

The meeting was also streamed via Zoom for those area residents who went south for the winter.

Carmeuse operates Port Inland near Gulliver and a large limestone quarry in Newton Township, and is a big landowner in Newton Township. Their current quarry is located west of Lake Milakokia and seven miles from their harbor on Lake Michigan where the stone processing is done.

“We are here to provide the information, and we want to be upfront with our plans,” said site operations manager Patrick Lamb. Not all of the information is available, he said, because the company doesn’t yet know what the future holds. “…[B]ut we can tell you specifically what we are going to be doing in the near term.”

The quarry will be established on wilderness property near Corrine Road, about four miles east of the current quarry.

One of the presentation slides showed a map with three stars, which indicated the three areas that the company looked at opening the quarry. “We are always looking for areas to expand into,” Lamb said.

An initial concern of Newton Township supervisor Fred Burton is the traffic of hauling trucks on Corrine Road. After looking at the three proposed locations, it was decided to locate across from the old Campfire’s Barbeque restaurant on US-2 where the trucks could go straight onto US-2 from the new quarry, avoiding a need to drive on Corrine Road.

Over the next couple of years, the company will open up a three-acre hole to begin the process of removing limestone in an open pit quarry.

Lamb explained that the company does not plan to open a full-scale mine in the next few years. “We don’t know what that looks like in the future,” stated Lamb. “The only thing we can tell you is that we are going to test it, figure out how we are going to bring it back over to Port Inland, and we will slowly bring up production to the point where it is a fully operated mine site.”

Another detail concerns Simmons Woods, a historic area largely owned by the state of Michigan. Carmeuse has a land holding in the center of Simmons Woods that they are in the process of trading to the state of Michigan in exchange for a piece of land outside of Simmons Woods.

Following the presentation, many residents asked questions and expressed their concerns about the quarry.

Residents expressed an overall fear that blasting will damage their homes and foundations; while others are worried their water quality will be ruined or their wells will run dry.

Carmeuse has pledged to pay for well water quality testing if it is requested before the initial blast, residents were told.

Many of Gould City’s wells are shallow and were dug 75 years ago and are 30-40 foot deep, according to residents, and some are shared. They fear that a quarry that goes deeper than their wells will ruin their water supply.

“If you start noticing problems with your well after we start mining, call me first,” Lamb said. “I am going to come out and we will have a conversation about it and if needed I will call a well driller to come get you a new well.” Residents felt that the company should have a process in place in the event any wells go dry.

Carmeuse, which pledges to be “a good neighbor” to Newton Township residents, will also maintain safety setbacks from residences, property lines, and utilities for blasting. If requested by residents, the company will contact them when blasting will occur. If requested, a pre-blast survey of structures of the closest neighbors can take place before initial blast.

Representatives at the meeting said the company will use third party seismographs and other technologies to monitor blasting.

Another concern regarded noise, including the beepers on heavy equipment at night. In response, the company said they will shut off beepers at night and flashing lights will be used.

The company will be present at a future township meeting to further address well concerns.