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Uwharrie group meets today in Stanly

By Karissa Minn
kminn@salisburypost.com
The Uwharrie Regional Resources Commission will hold its first meeting at 5 p.m. today in the new terminal building at the Stanly County Airport, 38512 Aviation Drive in New London.
Jason Walser, executive director of the Central Piedmont LandTrust, is the sole commission member from Salisbury.
Walser said he had not received an agenda as of Wednesday afternoon, but the meeting likely will involve working out the schedule, structure, goals and visions of the 12-member commission.
The bill passed in July that established the Uwharrie Commission does not mention Alcoa Power Generating Inc. or its Yadkin Hydroelectric Project, but it could be used to take ownership of the dams for the state of North Carolina.
“I think dealing with Alcoa is very much within the scope of it,” Walser said. “Also, what I want to advocate for is what we’ve been doing at the LandTrust for many years … (which is) economic development through tourism and recreation in the Uwharrie region.”
In addition to Walser, the commission includes the Stanly and Davidson county board chairs, an Albemarle City Council member, a board member from Yadkin Riverkeeper Inc., the director of the North Carolina Zoo and the chair of Uwharrie Capital Corp.
Also members are J. Keith Crisco, secretary of the N.C. Department of Commerce, and Dee Freeman, secretary of the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
One of the commission’s stated purposes is to “identify and evaluate issues affecting important resources of the region and recommend policies and programs to address those issues.”
Its purposes also include coordinating “with existing local and regional efforts to address threats to important regional resources” and making recommendations to governing bodies “for the use, stewardship, and enhancement of important regional resources.”
Its authority includes the power to own or lease property, accept grants from public and private sources, enter into contracts and “pursue efforts directed at the equitable distribution of water for public purposes.”
Another state bill directly intended to establish a public Yadkin River Trust to own the dams was voted down in August of 2009.
For the past few years, Alcoa has been seeking a renewal of its 50-year license to operate the Yadkin Hydroelectric Project. But last month, state officials revoked a certification the company must have for relicensing.
On Dec. 1, the N.C. Division of Water Quality revoked Alcoa’s 401 water quality certification, issued in May 2009.
According to a statement by the Division of Water Quality, when Alcoa applied for the certification, it “intentionally withheld information on the project’s ability to meet the state’s water quality standards for dissolved oxygen.”
Alcoa said in its own statement that no material information was withheld from the state, and the company plans to immediately challenge the revocation.
Contact reporter Karissa Minn at 704-797-4222.

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