TCEQ halts work on YFZ sewer plant
Tom Green County, Plateau Water District join fight to derail YFZ wastewater permit
Inspectors from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality paid a return visit last week to the YFZ Ranch, this time to deliver a “shut-down” order for construction activity on a proposed wastewater treatment plant.
Ricky Anderson, Regional Director for the TCEQ office in San Angelo told the Success on Monday that inspectors from his office went to the YFZ Ranch on Wednesday, March 2, 2005, and ordered that all work associated with the facility stop immediately. He said that the trip was prompted by reports that construction work had begun on the wastewater facility before his agency had issued a permit.
“We told them they had to cease all activity and they complied with the order,” Anderson said.
At that time, reports of water leaking from septic tanks and continued burning of trash were also investigated by the environmental inspectors.
Anderson wouldn’t divulge any details about those inquiries but did note that additional violations have been identified and will be acted upon. Meanwhile the stop order remains in effect at the wastewater plant.
County weighs in on YFZ wastewater permit debate
Schleicher County Commissioners met Monday, March 14, 2005, and voted to schedule a meeting with officials from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality at which time they intend to express their concerns about a proposed wastewater treatment plant on the YFZ Ranch. The men also plan to travel to Austin where they will meet with State Senator Robert Duncan and State Representative Harvey Hilderbran, as well as TCEQ officials.
The commissioners chose the direct approach rather than joining with the Upper Colorado River Authority, the San Angelo based agency that is already protesting the YFZ’s wastewater permit application.
County Attorney Raymond Loomis advised the commissioners Monday of his concerns about supporting the UCRA with a monetary contribution. Loomis said that since the money hadn’t been budgeted for the purpose, it shouldn’t be spent.
Federal court finds Jeffs in default in Fischer lawsuit
Warren Jeffs, the leader of a polygamous Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, was found to be in default last Friday in a federal civil lawsuit that accused him of blacklisting a former church member.
The news came when the clerk of the court entered a certificate of default against Jeffs, indicating that he has failed to respond to a summons to appear. The ruling means Jeffs has forfeited the right to defend himself and could be held liable for damages in the case.
Shem Fischer, who was once employed by a cabinet company in Hildale, UT, alleges in the lawsuit that he was wrongfully terminated from his job because he no longer adhered to the town’s dominate FLDS faith.
Fred Jessop update
The Success learned on Thursday that Fred Jessop, known by members of the FLDS Church as “Uncle Fred,” passed away at 2:20 p.m. Tuesday, March 15, 2005 at Sky Ridge Medical Center in Lone Tree, CO. The cause of death is reported as congestive heart failure. The 94-year-old patriarch and one-time Second Councilor to the FLDS Prophet, was said to have been hospitalized for five days prior to his death.
Jessop was once seen as the heir apparent to former prophet Rulon Jeffs but was reportedly out-maneuvered by Jeffs’ son, Warren Jeffs when the elder prophet died in September of 2002.
Shortly thereafter, Jessop was removed from his position of leadership in the church. He has been considered missing by authorities for several months.
Word of Jessop’s death reached Eldorado Wednesday with some sources saying he died at the YFZ Ranch. Sheriff Doran told the Success that his sources indicate that while Jessop had indeed passed away, the death did not occur here in Texas.
Jessop’s body has reportedly been taken to Spilsbury Funeral Home in Hurricane, UT.
Funeral services are slated for Sunday, March 20, 2005, in Colorado City, AZ.
The Success will publish more details as they become available.
Hilderbran takes aim at YFZ Ranch
Bill would hinder polygamous lifestyle
Only a year ago this week did Eldoradoans first learn that a sect of fundamentalist Mormons had purchased property in Schleicher County and that their prophet, Warren Jeffs, was planning to move a portion of his polygamous flock from the Utah/Arizona border to his new enclave near Eldorado.
Since that day, citizens of Eldorado and Schleicher County have been hard pressed to keep up with the steep learning curve confronting them and to stay ahead of the horde of print and broadcast journalists that seemed to descend on the town in waves.
Likewise, Eldorado’s neighbors found themselves drawn into the story as it swept out of Schleicher County, across the Concho Valley, into the Permian Basin and Hill Country, and finally into Austin where State Representative Harvey Hilderbran last week brought the issue to the floor of the Texas egislature.
House Bill 3006, introduced by Hilderbran last week, calls for the state to raise the age at which girls may legally marry with parental consent from 14 to 16. It would also prohibit step-parents from marrying their step-children and elevate violations of the state’s marriage laws from misdemeanor to felony status.
The legislation also targets the concept of plural or celestial marriage, as taught by Jeffs and openly practiced by his followers. More specifically, the bill would makes it a felony to marry more than one person or to purport to marry or live under the appearance of marriage.
All eyes turn toward Eldorado
Investigators from three states and a small army of print and broadcast journalists are looking toward Eldorado this week, wondering what Warren Jeffs, the self-proclaimed prophet of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, is going to do next.
Many of Jeffs critics, some of them excommunicated members of the FLDS, say that he plans something big for April 6, which just happens to be the 175th anniversary of the founding of the mainline Mormon Church.
Jeffs and his followers believe that it is they, and not the current LDS Church, who are the true descendants of Mormon Prophet Joseph Smith, prompting some to see it as logical that he will use the occasion for a ceremonial purpose. Some of Jeffs most ardent detractors go so far as to predict the group will commit mass suicide, Jonestown-style, in order to protect their Prophet from his enemies.