Local anti-fracking group organizes march in downtown Kent

Courtney Kerrigan

Hydraulic fracturing hasn’t invaded Kent yet, and local anti-fracking groups want to keep it that way. They’re hoping a “March Against Fracking,” and free hot chocolate and donuts, might help.

Marchers will meet on Saturday at 10:45 a.m. in downtown Kent in front of the Kent Stage on East Main Street. They will walk toward Kent State to the rock on front campus, then return to the gazebo on Franklin Street at 11:30 a.m. for two speakers, Dr. Ted Voneida of Twin Lake and Jamie Frederick of Coitsville. Both speakers have fracking wells near their homes.

Marchers will use the sidewalks, so no streets will be closed off.

Local group Concerned Citizens of Ohio started planning this march about a month ago, and the police “courteously agreed to help,” said Mary Greer, a Shalersville resident.

“We need to show Kent just how many people are concerned about fracking,” Greer said. “A march will do that. We might have 30 people and we might have 100 people.”

Voneida is a retired neurobiology professor from NEOMED and now gives lectures on hydraulic fracturing around Ohio. His next lecture will be at the University of Mount Union Feb. 28.

Voneida has lived in Kent for 42 years. He began studying fracking when Twin Lakes’ board of directors negotiated drilling on the north shore of west Twin Lake about three years ago. He rallied the community and got a unanimous vote against it, blocking the drilling from taking place.

“We love the water and that’s the reason we moved here was for the water,” he said. “They were going to put a drill directly under west Twin Lake, and sometimes it can break and leak contaminates.”

Although not an official member of Concerned Citizens of Ohio, Voneida has been a long-term member and on the executive board of the Kent Environmental Council. He and his wife are also members of Buckeye Forest and Sierra Club, which focus on environmental disasters such as fracking, he said.

Another group, FACT — Faith, Action, Community Together (against fracking) — will host an informational meeting before the march and rally at 9:30 a.m. Saturday at the Tannery.

“It should be an interesting experience for people who missed out on this kind of activism in the 1950s and ‘60s,” Greer emphasized about the march. “It’s democracy at work.”

Contact Courtney Kerrigan at [email protected].