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Waelz Sustainable Products continues construction on its new zinc plant on Thursday Sept. 17, 2020.

There is no question where the mayor stands on Waelz Sustainable Products.

On Thursday, Mayor Chris Martin issued a statement that he is “very disheartened by the actions of elected officials in Cass County.”

Despite pleas from the community to halt plans to bring the zinc reclamation plant here, the County Council voted 5-2 last week to approve the issuance of two bonds, opening the door for the plant to be constructed and opened in Cass County.

According to the mayor, his office has received numerous phone calls asking why he was not at the meeting. Because he was involved with city meetings, his schedule did not permit him to be there.

“I sincerely apologize that my responsibilities as mayor prevented me from attending the recent meeting where the bond issues for the proposed site were pushed through, in spite of an effort to table.

“I was under the impression that WSP [Waelz Sustainable Products] was going to be prevented from coming to the county,” he said. “I am appalled at the flagrant disrespect towards the citizens that we all work for, who come from all political affiliations and are fighting day and night against the long lasting and damaging imprint that this plant will leave behind for not just us, but future generations.

“I continue to be strongly against this project and will not support those who have supported this project locally,” Martin said.

County Council President Mike Stajduhar agreed with the mayor.

“I am in total agreement with Mayor Martin,” said Stajduhar. “It is clear to me as well as him that the vast majority of citizens in Cass County are opposed to this project. It is my belief that Cass County officials should respect the will of the people.

“The state may not understand fully what is going on because of the amount of negativity,” said Martin. “But we locally should have come together and listened to the will of the people, voting against any further movement on this highly controversial issue. As mayor of the county seat of Cass, I will continue to be firmly in opposition to WSP, and I will continue to stand in solidarity with those I was sworn to protect and defend.”

Stajduhar added that he too was disheartened by the actions of the County Council. “I was one of two councilmen who voted against WSP.” The other was David Redweik.

Those who voted in favor were George Stebbins, Tracy Williamson, Bruce Ide, Grover Bishop and Brian Reed.

The bond issues are for construction of two parts of the WSP project being built in the Cass County Agribusiness Park near Clymers.

One bond is a Tax Increment Financing [TIF] bond where the county would issue bonds to pay for infrastructure improvements at a cost of $17 million for 21 years. The second is a conduit bond, where WSP would, basically, use the county’s bonding ability to borrow funds at a lower rate. This bond would guarantee funds up to $70 million.

The mayor said that “[t]he County Council blatantly ignored the pleas of those that they were sworn to serve, and continued their unwavering support of a project that has brought much angst to our citizens, as well as the threat of great potential harm to our community.”

Reach Kristi Hileman at kristi.hileman@pharostribune.com or 574-732-5150

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