On Dec. 12, the Arkansas Natural Resources Commission vacated its order from July 17, 2013, instructing that Clinton rancher and businessman Dan Eoff tear down his 25-foot plus dam.
That decision came a few days after the Legislative Joint Auditing Committee issued its findings that an event held at the Clinton Municipal Airport the night before, on July 16, was indeed a public meeting. The event was dinner for the commissioners, their families and some guests. Approximately 37 people attended and the ANRC paid $817 for the food.
The auditing committee found that the event should have been considered a public meeting because all commissioners were present; the event was paid for with public funds; legal briefs concerning the next day’s hearing were distributed to commissioners; and after the event all but one of the commissioners visited the dam site.
In a telephone interview Monday, Eoff said he has hired engineers specializing in water projects and hopes to get the necessary permits.
The pond was built by people with years of experience and it is stable, Eoff said. "I didn’t spend $131,00 to build it just hoping it would hold." He invited anyone who has doubts about the pond to contact him about seeing it.
Eoff, who runs the annual National Chuckwagon Races, said he views the pond as a community asset. He said his pond, one owned by James Beavers and one built by Southwestern Energy could together supply the community with water for three months if there were serious problems with the lake.
The legal wrangling continues with Eoff’s lawsuit against ANRC filed in Van Buren County Circuit Court and a trial concerning fines levied by the EPA on him for damming a creek and sedimentation in the river is set for November 2014.