12/07/06 — Attorney will chair Clean Water Trust

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Attorney will chair Clean Water Trust

By Matthew Whittle
Published in News on December 7, 2006 1:45 PM

Goldsboro lawyer and former state Rep. Phil Baddour was appointed chairman of the Clean Water Management Trust Fund by Gov. Mike Easley Wednesday.

Baddour, who served in the state Legislature from 1994 to 2002 -- the last four as the Democrat House majority leader -- is replacing Robert Dare Howard. Howard resigned last month. Baddour's appointment is effective immediately. He began his four-year term in 2003.

As chairman of the board of trustees, Baddour is stepping into the position with several items immediately on his agenda.

Among those, the board is charged with finding a new executive director after Bill Holdman announced his resignation last month.

"Our first big job is to complete the search for a new executive director," Baddour said, adding that one of the most important jobs the board has is finding a professional executive to direct the trust fund.

He's hoping to have the position filled in four to five months. Holdman will remain with the fund until Dec. 27.

Once a new executive director is chosen, he continued, the board also will continue its work to ensure it is operating as efficiently as possible as the amount of money is has available for grants has continued to increase in recent years.

Currently, the trust fund has $100 million to give out in grants around the state. It receives its budget from the General Assembly.

The funds are provided to local governments, state agencies and conservation non-profits to help clean up pollution in the state's waters, protect those not yet polluted and provide a network of riparian buffers and greenways for environmental, educational and recreational uses.

However, there have been questions about how the fund's resources are being divided among the state's 100 counties.

According to The Fayetteville Observer, four counties have received more than $20 million since the fund was created, while others, including Harnett County, have received less than $3 million.

"I don't really think it is (a problem)," Baddour said. "I think if you back and look at the fund, there's been a good dispersement across the state."

It all depends, he continued, on where the fund's grant applications come from and where they can secure the necessary easements.

Wayne County is in the middle of the two funding extremes with slightly more than $14 million coming in for various projects.

In recent years, Goldsboro has received approximately $4 million for wetland protection around Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, as well as $2 million for stream restoration efforts on Stoney Creek.

"The Neuse River Basin and Cape Fear River Basin are important objectives," Baddour said, adding that he's looking forward to getting to down to business.

"It's going to be some work, but I'm very honored to be asked to chair the board. The trust fund performs very, very important work in preserving and protecting the waterways of this state for future generations."