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The North Bend Eagle


City's attempt to block fluoridation denied by state

by Nathan Arneal
Published 6/6/06

• Too late for special election, DHHS says.

At its Sept. 7 meeting, the North Bend City Council said it wanted to look into a potential special election to overturn a 2008 vote that requires North Bend to add fluoride to its drinking water.

At its Sept. 21 meeting, the Council was informed that it could not hold such a special election.

City Clerk Theresa Busse shared a letter from the Nebraska Department of Heath and Human Services stating that any special election to overturn the fluoridation vote had to take place before June 1, the date the law requiring fluoridation took effect.

In 2008, the state legislature passed a law requiring all cities or villages with more than 1,000 residents to add fluoride to its water to help prevent tooth decay. Cities could opt out of the requirement if its people voted to do so.

In November 2008, North Benders were asked if they were in favor of a city ordinance to ban the fluoridation. The ordinance failed by a vote of 254-231.

Because the ordinance would have done away with the requirement to add fluoride, a vote against the ordinance was actually a vote in favor of fluoridation. It is this wording that leads the current city council to believe many voters were confused and did not know what they were voting for in choosing “For” or “Against.”

North Bend has been adding fluoride to its water since the law took effect on June 1 of this year. However, it has not followed all of the state’s guidelines and has not submitted plans to the state. As a result, the city has been fined $1,000. The state requires that the fluoridation equipment be kept in its own separate room.

North Bend was given 60 days to comply with the state regulations.

“There is nothing we can do now except contact our (state) senators and get them to change the law,” Busse said. “Right now (fluoridation) is the law and there’s nothing else we can do but install it and do it right.”

In other Council business:
• The city received no bids to buy the current library building.
• Library Foundation member Deanna Wolf reported that dirt work on the new library site will begin this fall and the foundation is hoping to start taking construction bids around Jan. 1 and begin construction as soon as possible in the spring.

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