Thursday, March 27, 2014

Standing Their Ground
It was a hot day in August of 2010 when I first met Tim Tanksley and Dub Tolbert in Bokoshe, OK. They are both born, raised, and live on family homesteads in the area.  Long time close friends, together they create a powerful force.
The Making Money Having Fun LLC coal fly ash disposal pit (better know by permit from the state of Oklahoma as a "reclamation site") ajoins Dub's ranch.  The coal ash has polluted his grass and water supply for livestock.
A triple strand barbwire fence is the only barrier between Dub and the coal ash.  He has watched his cattle die.
Last week while I was there the winds began to blow. The sky filled with toxic clouds of coal ash.  Dub told me "it starts to blow...we head for the house, close all the windows and doors.  There are times we can't see across the yard.  That's when I get on the phone and call Tim".
Tim fires up his video camera attempting to document the blowing toxic coal ash.  He will call the Oklahoma Department of Environment to report the issue.  They may or may not respond.

Tim and Dub worked with the community for over three years to bring a lawsuit against the coal ash issues in Bokoshe.  Last month a Federal Judge issued an order stating they did not have a case.

Standing their ground.  That's what Tim and Dub are doing. "We are not giving up.  We will do whatever it takes to right this wrong."

be strong, be safe, Carlan 

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

President Honors Late Outstanding Educator in Bokoshe
Diane Reese was a three times cancer survivor when I met her in 2010.  She had invited me to visit her sixth grade class at Bokoshe Elementary School.  Nine out of seventeen students in her class had severe asthma.
Diane worked until Thanksgiving break of 2013.  She died December 4, 2013 of a fast moving fourth type of cancer.  She was sixty-one.  Diane was a career educator at Bokoshe schools with over thirty-six years in the classroom.  On December 20, 2013 the White House announced the prestigious Presidential Award for Excellence in Teaching.  Family members did not receive notice of the award until a writer from the Tulsa World called for an interview.
Diane lived with her husband Bill just down the road from the Making Money Having Fun LLC coal ash deposit site.
Last week when I was in Bokoshe I asked Bill to share some stories about Diane with me.  "Diane had a natural thirst for knowledge.  She always tried to be the best teacher she could be.  She taught the kids about the health hazards of coal ash.  She knew it was harmful to our community.  In 2007 she began to suffer from cancer.  We've had twelve to thirteen of our close neighbors die from cancer.  I was in the room...right there holding her hand when she passed away...someday we will be smiling again together..."

be strong, be safe, Carlan 

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Living and Breathing on Mine Road
I met Charles Tackett on my first trip to Bokoshe, OK in August of 2010.  Charles lives with his wife and daughter on Mine Road.  The Making Money Having Fun LLC coal ash disposal site is located less than a 1/4 mile down the road.
I photographed Charles in 2010 standing in his front yard as coal ash trucks rumbled down the road.  The air was constantly filled with light gray ash from the trucks.  Charles told me, "I have an undefined lung problem".
Filters from his air conditioner clogged with coal ash needed to be changed every two weeks.
Last week I was back in Bokoshe on Mine Road.  Coal ash continues to coat the road.  It has been 2 1/2 years since I have seen Charles.
I was greeted at the door by Lisa, Charles' wife.  "Come on in, he's waiting to see you.  He needs to be on oxygen 24/7 now just to breathe.  He has a difficult time keeping his lungs clear.  He's not able to work."  Visiting with Charles, he told me he was 57 years old, but felt much older.

Unregulated coal ash continues to take a heavy toil on the community of Bokoshe.

be strong, be safe, Carlan

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Back to Bokoshe, OK.
On the road.  East on I40.  It has been almost three years since I was there.  A call last week from one of the community members.  "When the wind blows the air is filled with coal fly ash.  Thirteen in our community have been taken by cancer in the last twelve months."

One look at Nancy, she could read my mind, "You need to go".   

be strong, be safe, Carlan