McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

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June 11, 2014

DEQ slates public forum

McALESTER — Got questions?

The Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality is coming to McAlester next week for a board meeting and public forum.

Following the meeting, the DEQ plans to provide an opportunity for the public to ask questions or speak on environmental issues. The board meeting is set for 10 a.m. on Tuesday, June 17, in the Community Room of the Pittsburg County Health Department, at 1400 E. College Ave., across the street from the McAlester Regional Health Center.

During the forum, the public has an opportunity to comment “and let us know if we are meeting your needs and providing timely responses to environmental issues,” according to the DEQ.

Those who wish to address the board will be allocated time to speak about water quality, air quality, land protection, general environmental issues and other related activities, the DEQ said.

Anyone wanting to address the board should sign up on the forum register at the board meeting.

Plans call for the first part of the event to consist of the DEQ’s regular board meeting, said DEQ spokesperson Skylar McElhaney.

“We try to hold them in different parts of the state,” McElhaney said of the meetings, since the board is aware that residents from across the state may have a difficult time going to Oklahoma City to attend DEQ meetings. By holding the meetings in different locations, the hope is more people from around the state will have an opportunity to attend.

McElhaney said there’s no way to tell exactly how long the board’s business meeting will last, so there’s no way to determine exactly when the public forum section of the meeting will begin.

During the forum, the board cannot act or comment on individual proceedings, such as enforcement actions or pending permits, according to McElhaney.

Asked if that would not restrict a lot of potential questions from the public, McElhaney said “People talk about a variety of things during the public forum. It doesn’t have to be a question.” Sometimes individuals want to make a statement about a particular matter, she said.

Anyone who is unable to attend, but who would like to submit comments about environmental issues, can contact Quiana Fields, Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality, P.O. Box 1677, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, 73101-7152, or can phone at 1-405-702-7152.

Also, anyone who would like to attend but who has a disability and needs an accommodation, should notify the DEQ three days in advance at 405-702-7100. For those who are hearing-impaired, the TDD Relay Number is 1-800-722-0353 for TDD machine use only, according to the DEQ.

Contact James Beaty at jbeaty@mcalesternews.com.

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