Wednesday, October 08, 2008 Host Candidate Forum

Local candidates oppose proposed sludge composting site

October 8, 2008 - 4:23PM

“We found some good ones here. We see a couple of people who are willing to stand up.” Bill Thomlinson, Barstow resident

HINKLEY • They had different names for it — poop plant, hazardous waste site, human feces dump. The had different solutions — cover it, run it out of town, legislate it into impossibility. But all the candidates, from school boards to the U.S. House of Representatives, strongly opposed the proposed sludge composting plant in Hinkley.

Twenty-two candidates who will appear on the Nov. 4 ballot spoke to Hinkley and residents from the surrounding communities Tuesday night during a candidate forum at the Hinkley Fire Hall. Hinkley residents cannot vote in many of the races represented Tuesday night, but forum organizer and moderator Norm Diaz said he wanted the night to highlight the relationship between Barstow and the surrounding rural communities of Hinkley, Daggett, Yermo and Newberry Springs.

Most pressing to many residents in Hinkley is the Nursery Products composting site proposed for the old Hawes Airfield outside of the town. Spearheaded by the group, residents and supporters from Barstow and other communities have been fighting to keep the plant out of the community for years. Carmen Hernandez and others said that since Barstonians breathe the same air and drink the same water as Hinkley, the composting plant is Barstow’s problem as well.

“You shouldn’t be calling it sludge,” said Nathaniel Pickett, a candidate for mayor. “Call it hazardous waste. If you want to defeat something, you have to call it what it is.”

Pickett stopped short of promising Hinkley to rid the community of the proposed plant, saying he could offer advice and guidance on how to fight it. Other candidates also pledged support for Hinkley in fighting the plant.

Some candidates proposed solutions to the plant. Gene Deaton, running for City Council, said that if Nursery Products does not enclose the plant, they should not be allowed to build it. Marvin Ellis suggested pushing for legislation that would make it illegal to ship sludge long distances.

Erika Schneider has lived in Hinkley for 40 years and liked hearing all the candidates speak against the composting plant. Norm Sheppeard, who lives in Barstow Heights but feels the proposed composting plant will pollute the air around him, said that he too appreciated the support from all the candidates.

“They all sounded good,” said Hinkley resident Floyd Burns. “Everybody is against it, but...”

Floyd and his wife Jean worried that the candidates lacked plans to stop the facility from coming. What they liked hearing, they said, was plans from the school board candidates to start more vocational education training and the prospects for the area’s economy.

“Kids need to be prepared for jobs,” Jean said.

“We need more jobs here,” Floyd replied.

In attendance

Joe Gomez
Nathaniel Pickett
(Mayor Lawrence Dale had a prior commitment to Tips for Tots, a fund-raiser for the Toys for Tots program, and could not attend. A letter from Dale addressing the people of Hinkley will be available at

Gene Deaton
Marvin Ellis
Carmen Hernandez
Tim Saenz
Richard Villegas

Ace Acevedo
Julie Clemmer
Mary Rodriguez
Paul Wilkey

Fred Baca
Ted Baca
Bob Conaway
Linda Wyman-DeWald
Marcia Zableckis

Eddie Garcia

Kimberly Cox
Ellen Johnson

Linda Jones (D)

Jackie Conaway (D)

Contact the writer:
(760) 256-4121 or

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