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NEIGHBORS REJOICE: Decatur County leaders revoke bond for controversial primate facility

The board moved to revoke the revenue bond for the project as a response to community push back
Posted at 6:08 PM, Feb 02, 2024
  • During Friday's special meeting called by the Bainbridge Decatur County Industrial Development Authority neighbors called for unity.
  • Neighbors are prepared to continue voicing concerns to public leaders until project.
  • Watch the story to learn how the special meeting unfolded.

BROADCAST TRANSCRIPT:

County leaders are taking a step back when it comes to a controversial primate facility coming to Bainbridge.

How neighbors close to the construction site say they simply hope the primate center does not come here.

"I don't think that we need it with all that comes with it.. The noise, smell,” said Donna Barber, a long-time Bainbridge neighbor.

She has lived in Bainbridge since 1988.

Barber lives on Pond Town Road which is about 400 yards from where a primate facility called Safer Human Medicine is scheduled to be built.

"We were so happy… then all of this started happening and it makes you rethink life,” said Barber.

During Friday's special meeting called by the Bainbridge Decatur County Industrial Development Authority neighbors called for unity in the best way they knew how..

"Prayer changes things.. This is the perfect opportunity for us to pray,” said a neighbor attending the meeting..

The board moved to revoke the revenue bond for the project as a response to the community's push back against the deal.

"The divisiveness and polarization this community is experiencing now outweighs the economic advantages,” according to the Bainbridge Industrial Development Authority chairman Keith Lyle.

Ultimately a revenue bond that was previously agreed to at the December 11 meeting is now reversed.

Breaking things down.

The courts must approve for a bond to be issued. The revenue bond is a big part of the agreement as it relates to land development and tax breaks.

Neighbors are prepared to continue voicing concerns to public leaders until project.

"It's a long road for all of us but we're going to walk it together,” said Barber.

I'm told that the fate of the project looks dim, not that city and county leaders are resending their support.

I reached out to county industrial authority director, Rick McCaskill who said he can not commit at this time.

Mark Calvin, a spokesperson for Safer Human Medicine has reached out to WTXL in response to the county's decision.

"We are disappointed in the decision made by the Development Authority of Decatur County and City of Bainbridge. We have spent significant time and resources in choosing Bainbridge for our business and, despite the Development Authority’s decision, we intend to continue moving forward with this project to meet the urgent need for non-human primates in medical research. We are committed to this project and the community so that life-saving medicines can be produced safely and quickly for Americans.

The American medical research community is depending on our operation coming online so that their research can continue leading the way for the medical breakthroughs of tomorrow. Already, we have some of the largest medical research companies in the world who want to work with us.

Unfortunately, people in this community have been misled by PETA. We are disappointed that their tactics have resulted in economic and personal retaliation within the community and against local leaders, neighbors, and friends who have been supportive. Their tactics are not about saving animals but sowing fear and division. As a result, improving human lives - both economically and medically - has suffered.

We understand some people have reasonable questions about an operation like ours. We hope we'll have the chance in the coming weeks and months to share more about our operations, debunk the myths spread by PETA’s well-funded smear campaign, and be given the opportunity to show how we can be a positive presence in the Bainbridge community."